Raith rage over ‘phantom goal’ decision

Raith manager John Hughes. Pic - Fife Photo Agency
Raith manager John Hughes. Pic - Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers manager John Hughes has lashed out at the decision to award Queen of the South a ‘phantom goal’ in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Stark’s Park.

Ryan Hardie’s opener was cancelled out when referee Colin Steven gave a goal after Stephen Dobbie’s free-kick struck the inside of the post and spun across the goal line.

Immediately after the match, Hughes accepted that the ball must have crossed the line for the goal to have been given, but after reviewing video footage, which clearly shows the ball bouncing on the line and away from goal, the Raith boss admits he has been left dumbfounded by the decision.

“Now that I’ve seen the footage, the ball wasn’t over the line,” he told the Press.

“We all make mistakes, but what has he seen to give the goal? You have to be 100 per cent sure that the ball was over the line, but it’s not even close.

“People will say the referee has not had the chance to view the video, but it’s not even a case for goal-line technology – it’s an easy decision.

“The linesman never did what he’s meant to do when a goal goes in, and that’s put your flag in a certain position and run to the halfway line.

“He stopped 20 yards out so he wasn’t sure himself. That alone tells you he can’t give it.

“It’s probably a young referee who is starting his career, and I wish him well, but it’s a horrendous mistake and I think it affected the rest of his performance.

“I’m honest enough to say that we didn’t do enough in the game to deserve a victory, but to get done on a decision like that is not acceptable.

“I just hope it doesn’t come back to haunt the boys because they are playing for their livelihoods.”

Hughes takes his players to Falkirk on Saturday - a club where he enjoyed great success as both a player and manager - and he is looking for big improvements from the Queens game.

“I’m looking forward to going back to Falkirk, but we’re going to have to be a lot better than we were on Saturday,” he said. “My only frustration is the contrast in performances. We can’t keep switching it on and off.

“I’m really pleased with what boys are giving me in terms of effort, we just need to be a bit more streetwise come a Saturday and bit more consistent in our performance.”

Hughes is still hopeful of signing a player for the crucial relegation run-in with work ongoing behind the scenes to try and return injured goalkeeper Aaron Lennox to Aberdeen to free up another loan.

“I’m hopeful something might happen in the next couple of days, but I’m looking for a wee hand from the board to make it happen,” Hughes stated.

“With the finances we’ve got it’s not going to be a top, top player, but I’d hope for somebody who is good enough to go into the starting XI and give us competition for places.”

Winger Joel Coustrain, meanwhile, has left the club and returned to Ireland after failing to retain a place in the first team squad.

Hughes explained: “He came to see me, and I was honest enough to say to him that he would find it very hard to get a game in the first team.

“I just felt that he’s still got a lot of learning in him and we just don’t have the time to do that.

“He felt if he wasn’t getting the chance now, then with the League of Ireland starting back up again, it would be better for him to go back home.

“It was a two-way thing and he goes with our best wishes. He is a gem of a bloke who made me smile and I’m quite sure he’ll make a living in football.

“He just needs to add a few strings to his bow.”

Raith tickets for the big Fife Derby away to Dunfermline Athletic at East End Park on Saturday, April 8 are now on sale during office hours (weekdays 9.00 a.m – 4.00 p.m) at Stark’s Park.