Promising signs for Raith against Premiership Partick

Kyle Benedictus weaves his way through the Partick midfield. Picture by FPA.
Kyle Benedictus weaves his way through the Partick midfield. Picture by FPA.

Raith stepped up their preseason preparations on Tuesday night as they held Premiership Partick Thistle to a goalless draw in their only home friendly before they return to competitive action.

In what was new manager Gary Locke’s first game in front of the Rovers faithful, he will be pleased at how his team conducted themselves against an established top flight outfit.

Locke named three trialists in his matchday squad, two of which featured in the game showing fleeting moments of quality in a match that was lacking in a cutting edge from either side.

Tuesday night also saw a return to the starting 11 for new signing Kevin McHattie who had returned from a knee injury sustained during Raith’s friendly defeat to Forfar last week.

It was apparent from kick off that both sides had a way to go before they could safely say they were fully prepared for the new season.

The first half drew only the one shot, with McHattie’s freekick down the the Rovers’ right in the third minute coming straight back to him only for the left back to fizz the ball wide of the Partick keeper’s far post.

After a somewhat shaky start, Partick began to live up to their Premier billing by limiting Raith’s possession and asking some questions of the defence.

However, Locke will be encouraged by the answers that his defence provided as they restricted Partick’s sights of the Raith goal.

It was clear to see that Locke had changed things up at the break as Raith came out for the second half looking a lot more lively and willing to push forward.

McHattie was encouraged to join the attack up the left hand side, offering Rovers width that wasn’t seen in the opening 45 minutes.

Raith were having the most joy down that left wing and on 65 minutes, some nice build up play freed up McHattie on the edge of the box who’s high drive produced the game’s only shot on target as the Partick keeper pushed the ball over the bar.

At times, it felt as if Partick were struggling to get out of their own half such was the intensity of Rovers’ pressure on the ball with Ross Callachan proving particularly effective at setting the attackers on their way.

Jonny Court’s cameo off the bench will please Locke as he linked up well with Lewis Vaughan up front but both lacked that killer instinct needed to find the net as Raith were forced to settle for the draw.

Tuesday’s performance did show there was still work to do ahead of Raith’s opening competitive fixture away to Cove Rangers on July 15 but Locke’s men are showing signs of progress in what will be regarded as a decent showing against a slightly higher quality of opposition.