Raith Rovers 1 Alloa 1
Raith Rovers were booed off the park after a disappointing home draw with Alloa, who climbed off the bottom of the Championship table with their first point in five games.
Raith are now without a win in five, and they never looked like ending that sequence, particularly in a drab second half where they failed to force visiting goalkeeper Craig McDowall into a single save.
The home side only started to show some urgency once Alloa were reduced to 10 men but by then it was too little, too late and the home fans, who had also booed manager Grant Murray’s second half substitutions, made their feelings known again at full-time.
Murray made three changes to his starting 11 from the 6-1 hammering at Ibrox with goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw dropped for Davie McGurn, back in the side for the first time since tearing his achilles almost exactly a year ago.
There were also recalls for Barrie McKay who replaced the benched Ryan Conroy, and Ross Perry, who returned to the centre of defence in place of the injured Laurie Ellis.
The home side made a bright enough start, forcing a series of early corners, while Mark Stewart broke through after a wayward pass in the Alloa defence only to be denied by a good save from McDowell.
However, Rovers fell behind in the 14th minute as they failed to deal properly with Alloa’s first real attack. Liam Buchanan pounced on Rory McKeown’s sliced clearance to loop a header over the stranded McGurn.
The goal punctured Raith’s early confidence but they equalised in the 34th minute as the lively McKay skipped down the left wing and crossed for Grant Anderson to power home a superb header.
With blustery conditions causing difficulty for both sides goalmouth action was in short supply, but Alloa showed more urgency after the break, with McGurn preventing Raith from falling behind a minute after the restart.
Some dithering in the Raith defence saw the ball break to Alloa’s Ryan McCord in the box and he thumped in a shot that the returning Raith ‘keeper brilliantly stopped with one hand.
McCord tested McGurn again just a few minutes later with a 25-yard shot but the Raith stopper was up to the task again, diving to his left to push the effort past the post.
The longer the second half progressed, the more frustrated Raith fans became with the lack of creativity on show.
With Stewart up front on his own against a packed Alloa defence, and Martin Scott unable to find the space he did at Ibrox the previous week, Rovers game plan simply wasn’t working.
With nothing happening, Murray replaced McKay - Raith’s brightest spark on the day - with Conroy. Raith fans booed the decision, then did the same when teenager Lewis Vaughan replaced Grant Anderson in the 81st minute - two like-for-like changes that did little to alter the team’s approach.
With both Calum Elliot and Christian Nade injured Raith are somewhat light in attacking options and it showed as the home side persisted with the same system, although perhaps one of the more defensive midfielders - Liam Fox or Kevin Moon - could have been sacrificed earlier to provide more support for the isolated Stewart.
Even once Kyle Benedictus picked up a second booking for a foul on Scott with 10 minutes remaining, Rovers were still unable to carve out a chance, and in the end, a draw was no more than Alloa deserved.
The point took Raith back into the top four above Hibs, who don’t play until tomorrow, however, this still felt a defeat and a chance missed to get the campaign back on track, and disgruntled supporters back onside.
Raith Rovers (4-4-1-1): McGurn; Thomson, Watson, Perry, McKeown; McKay (Conroy 70), Fox, Moon (Callachan 87), Anderson (Vaughan 84); Scott; Stewart. Not used: Hill, Callachan, Conroy, Vaughan, Robertson, Matthews, Laidlaw.
Booked: Moon, Fox, Scott
Alloa Athletic: (5-4-1): McDowall; Doyle, Gordon, Benedictus, Meggatt, Docherty; Cawley, Simmons (Ferns 10), McCord, Holmes; Buchanan (Marr 81). Not used: Hetherington, Weatherston, Ashgar, Tiffoney, Couser.
Booked: Benedictus. Sent off: Benedictus.