Raith and Queens share spoils in poor game

Ryan Hardie slots home Raith's opener. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Ryan Hardie slots home Raith's opener. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers 1 Queen of the South 1

The quality of football failed to match the glorious spring weather as Raith Rovers and Queen of the South shared the points at a warm and sunny Stark's Park.

All of the action took place in the opening 25 minutes as the teams traded goals, but the game then deteriorated into complete drudgery with neither side able to string two passes together in a poor advert for the Scottish Championship.

The major talking point - other than how awful the second half was - centred around the visitors' equalising goal.

Ryan Hardie's well-taken opener was quickly cancelled out when the Railway Stand assistant ruled that Stephen Dobbie's free-kick had crossed the line after it struck the inside of the post and fizzed across the goal line.

Rovers players were furious, and surrounded the official to protest, although the home side seemed to grudgingly accept afterwards that the ball had, in fact, spun over the line and back out again - despite a lack of convincing evidence.

Manager John Hughes stuck with the same XI that defeated Dundee United the week before but the bench was strengthened by the return of Iain Davidson and Connor Brennan from injury. For the first time since February 4, Raith actually had a sub 'keeper.

Queens, however, after taking just one point from the last 12, opted for a change in their usual system as they went three at the back. Despite taking the lead, Rovers never managed to come up with an answer over how to break them down.

The visitors made the better start, winning two corners straight from kick-off, without managing to test Pavol Penksa in goal.

Raith's first attack on eight minutes saw Ross Callachan pull an 18 yard effort narrowly wide, before the opener arrived just 60 seconds later.

Jason Thomson was the architect, bringing the ball down in a crowded midfield (a rare feat on the day) and threading a ball through to Hardie in the box.

The striker showed superb composure to drag the ball away from a retreating defender before slipping a cool finish underneath the advancing Lee Robinson.

It took an unbelievable block from defender Craig Barr to preserve Rovers' lead on 12 minutes as he threw his body in the way of a Joseph Thomson thunderbolt from 10 yards.

There was nothing the Raith defence could do about the equaliser though as Jordan Thompson conceded a foul on the edge of the area, and Dobbie did the rest. Whether it crossed the line or not, the quality of the strike was unquestionable.

The goals were out of keeping with the remainder of this match.

Both teams were so lacking in creativity that you could have put your mortgage on this game finishing 1-1 with 20 minutes still to go.

Hughes did his bit - replacing left back Kyle Benedictus with left winger Bobby Barr - and throwing on Rudi Skacel and Scott Roberts with plenty time left in a clear attempt to try and win the game.

Queens also made changes but neither side came even close to producing a cohesive move, let alone a moment of magic.

With the consequences of defeat weighing heavily on both sides, the emphasis from both sets of players seemed simply to avoid making a mistake, which meant balls were punted rather than passed, headered rather than brought down.

If anyone could have shown an ounce of composure, then this game was there for the taking.

If any credit could be given it was to both defences, who were very much on top.

Craig Barr - immense in his defensive duties - did his best to lift the boredom with 10 minutes remaining, striding up from the back to have a go from 30 yards, but Robinson was able to hold. That was about the only effort of note in the second half.

The full-time whistle brought an end to the boredom, and while the point extended Rovers' unbeaten home record under Hughes to four games, the two points dropped, couple with Ayr United's victory, means the Kirkcaldy side are now in deeper relegation trouble than they were before kick-off.

Points will be required from difficult trips to Falkirk and Dunfermline.

Raith Rovers: Penksa, Thomson, Callachan, M'voto, Benedictus (B.Barr 64), Johnston (Skacel 58), Thompson, Matthews, McManus (Roberts 66), C.Barr, Hardie. Not used: McHattie, Court, Davidson, Brennan.

Booked: Matthews, Thomson, McManus.

Queen of the South: Robinson, Marshall, Dowie, Brownlie, Higgins, Rankin, Lyle (Dykes 81), Dobbie, Jacobs, Thomson (McManus 71), Mercer (Thomas 65). Not used: Murray, Bell, Carmichael, Atkinson.

Booked: Dowie.

Referee: Colin Steven.

Attendance: 1609.