Raith sack Locke after defeat to Morton

A grim-faced Gary Locke prepares for his fate after the 1-0 defeat to Morton. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
A grim-faced Gary Locke prepares for his fate after the 1-0 defeat to Morton. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers 0 Morton 1

Gary Locke has been sacked as manager of Raith Rovers after his team suffered a sixth straight league defeat at home to Morton.

The club released a statement shortly after the 1-0 reverse confirming that they have parted ways with the 41-year-old boss, and his assistant Darren Jackson, after just seven months in charge.

The Press understands that head of youth development Craig Easton will take the team for training on Thursday.

The writing was on the wall when Locke and his players were prevented from speaking to the press after the match.

The Press also understands that Locke was summed to a board meeting ahead of the match where he was warned that results had to improve immediately.

Rovers latest defeat, which also extended their winless run to 14 games, means they have taken just five points from 36 available since the end of October.

The match, watched by less than 1000 home fans, was evenly contested up until the 52nd minute when Lee Kilday headed Morton into the lead from a free-kick.

And in keeping with recent fixtures, the loss of a simple goal early in the second half completely disheartened the Kirkcaldy side and the comeback never looked likely.

After persevering throughout recent matches without success, Locke abandoned his favoured 4-4-2, switching to 3-5-2 and bringing defender Craig Barr in for his first start of the season.

With his job on the line it was a gamble worth taking, but in the end, it made little difference.

Also returning to the starting XI were midfielder Jordan Thompson, while there was a double change up front, with the two Ryans, Hardie and Stevenson, replacing Mark Stewart and Declan McManus.

Connor Brennan also replaced the injured Kevin Cuthbert in goals for a total of five changes to the side that surrendered so meekly at Tannadice three days earlier.

The early signs were not entirely discouraging as Raith kept a solid shape, and restricted a high-flying Morton side to limited attacks.

It might have been his first start of season, but Craig Barr was barking out the orders and organising his team mates - a leader Raith have needed in the team.

There was nothing between the teams until Raith fashioned a good chance on 23 minutes.

Ross Callachan sent a thunderbolt towards goal from 25 yards that Derek Gaston spilled into the penalty area.

Hardie was quickest to react to the rebound, but the striker was unable to force it past the 'keeper, who made two blocks at close range.

That was the only clear opening of a subdued first half, but Raith had shown enough effort to at least get the fans behind them.

However, recent matches had shown a vulnerability after half-time and the first 10 minutes after the break would be crucial.

And sure enough, just seven minutes after the restart, the visitors took the lead when Michael Tidser sent a free-kick into the box and with hesitation from both goalkeeper Connor Brennan and the Raith defence, Kilday headed into the gaping goal.

It should have been 2-0 just two minutes later but Lawrence Shankland screwed an effort wide from just six yards with Brennan wrong-footed.

Locke needed a reaction from his team, and he used three attacking subs to try and salvage his job, but all Raith had to show for their second half efforts was a looping header from sub Declan McManus that dropped just wide.

As the full-time whistle sounded it felt like the end of the road. The confirmation came just over an hour later.

Raith Rovers: Brennan, Thomson (Skacel 82), Callachan (McManus 61), M'voto, Benedictus, B.Barr, Davidson, Thompson, Hardie, C.Barr, Stevenson (Stewart 61). Not used: McHattie, Johnston, Matthews, Roberts.

Booked: Thomson, C.Barr, B.Barr, Davidson

Morton: Gaston, Kilday, Lamie, O'Ware, Doyle, Lindsay, Tidser, Shankland, Russell, McDonagh, Donnelly (Nesbitt 72). Not used: Forbes, Scullion, Murdoch, Tiffoney, Strapp, McGowan.

Booked: Tidser, O'Ware.

Referee: Gavin Duncan

Attendance: 1161 (266 away)