Raith stretch lead at top after hitting five at Hampden

Lewis Vaughan scored for the 11th match running. Pic: George McLuskie
Lewis Vaughan scored for the 11th match running. Pic: George McLuskie

Queen's Park 0 Raith Rovers 5

Raith Rovers stretched their lead at the top of League One with a resounding 5-0 win over Queen's Park.

Lewis Vaughan netted for the 11th game running and was among five different scorers in a clinical display, while at the other end, the Kirkcaldy men battled hard to keep a clean sheet as midfielder Scott Robertson again deputised as a makeshift centre-half.

Raith put themselves firmly in the driving seat inside an explosive opening six minutes, scoring twice before Queen's Park even knew what had hit them, and although the hosts fought back to enjoy some good possession, Rovers absorbed the pressure before stretching ahead in the second half.

In winning a match by such a margin without ever dominating or playing near their best, this was an imperious display of strength from Rovers which prompted Queen's Park boss Gus McPherson to admit afterwards that Barry Smith's side might be too good for this division.

With two 5-0 wins on the road in succession, he may have a point, but there will be many hurdles for Raith to overcome before they can consider this season's title race a foregone conclusion. Still, six points clear at this early stage is a good place to be.

In keeping faith with Robertson in defence after his cameo against Ayr the previous week, boss Smith opted for out-of-position experience over youth, with teenage centre-back Dave McKay having to settle for a place on the bench.

It meant a first start in midfield for John Herron, otherwise Raith were unchanged.

It is always a surreal experience visiting Queen's Park at a near empty national stadium, but Raith seemed to be inspired by their surroundings as they set off out the traps at a frenzied tempo and Queen's were unable to keep up.

On three minutes, Bobby Barr sprinted through a static defence and although his cut-back was partially blocked, the ball fell to Liam Buchanan who teed himself up and smashed a volley home from eight yards.

If that was a good start, then it became an even better one just three minutes later as Raith doubled their lead.

The Spiders defence seemed caught in a trance as Vaughan tip-toed his way towards goal, past defender and goalkeeper, before sliding the ball into the net from a narrow angle.

Vaughan is now just two games away from matching the club's all-time record of scoring in 13 consecutive matches, but even if he doesn't quite make it, the start he has made to this season will go down in club history.

There was a scare for Raith shortly afterwards as Barr hit the deck clutching his knee after a ferocious tackle from Adam Cummins as he raced towards the box but thankfully the winger was able to continue after treatment.

The Queen's man went into referee John McKendrick's book and Vaughan went close with the free-kick grazing the roof of the net with a dipping effort.

Given their brilliant start it was a surprise to see Raith go into a shell somewhat for the remainder of the first half as Queen's dominated possession and territory.

Cummins sent a header looping over the bar form a corner, before David Galt shot narrowly wide from 22-yards.

Queen's kept up the pressure and Raith survived a penalty appeal when Davidson barged his man to the deck in the box while winning the header. Ref McKendrick shook his head.

Robertson was doing a fine job in defence but Raith were missing his presence in midfield and Raith were glad to reach half-time with their two-goal lead intact.

Queen's started the second half as they finished the first, pinning Raith back, and Smith reacted with a tactical change after just five minutes, replacing Greig Spence with on-loan Hearts forward Dario Zanatta, and his impact was almost immediate.

There appeared little danger when he received the ball out wide with his back to goal, but a sharp turn to leave his man for dead, saw him head towards the box, cut inside another defender, before sweeping a shot past William Muir for 3-0.

That put the dampener on Queen's comeback hopes and Raith were comfortable thereafter.

Buchanan was inches away from his second and Rovers' fourth as he found space at the edge of the box and curled a pearler off the inside of the post.

The fourth did arrive on 79 minutes as Buchanan was denied in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper but the ball broke to the edge of the box where Barr lashed it home.

And Raith saved the best for last as Jason Thomson completed the scoring in the 89th minute, firing a sweet first-time effort inside the far post from 20 yards after a perfect lay-off from Vaughan, prompting a leap of joy from Smith on the touchline.

It was far from perfect, but that only makes this scoreline even sweeter.

Queen's Park: Muir, Millen, Summer, Iredale, Cummins, Fotheringham, Galt, Docherty (Orr 54), Donnelly (Duff 68), Brady, Burns (Bailey 72). Not used: Wharton, Gibson, Green, McVey.

Raith Rovers: Smith, Thomson, Herron, Murray, Spence (Zanatta 50), Robertson, Buchanan (Berry 82), Vaughan, Barr, Matthews, Davidson (McKay 80). Not used: Osei, Court, Watson, Brian.

Referee: John McKendrick

Attendance: 873.