Relief over team mate’s red card reprieve

1212004 SSFF raith ayr 'John Baird celebrates with Brian Graham & Grant Murray after Graham opens the scoring - Raith Rovers against Ayr Utd at Starks Park, Kirkcaldy
1212004 SSFF raith ayr 'John Baird celebrates with Brian Graham & Grant Murray after Graham opens the scoring - Raith Rovers against Ayr Utd at Starks Park, Kirkcaldy
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RAITH sinner Brian Graham was given an almighty reprieve on Saturday as his team mates battled back to earn a last-minute draw against Ayr United.

The big striker earned himself a red card on 37 minutes for a crazy headbutt on Ayr defender Eddie Malone in retaliation to having the ball thrown at him.

With Raith leading 1-0 at the time through Graham’s fifth goal in his last four starts, it proved a costly rush of blood as Ayr battled back to lead 2-1 before Damian Casalinuovo’s dramatic equaliser in the fourth minute of injury time rescued a point for the 10 men.

Graham’s strike partner also happens to be one of his best friends, and John Baird was relieved the team managed to get his buddy out of jail.

“We’ve got a point so it’s not as negative as it could have been,” he said

“The big man has produced since he came back from his op, so nobody’s blaming him.

“It’s out of character. I wind him up every day and he’s never laid a finger on me.

“He knows that he’s let himself down, he doesn’t need anyone else to say it to him.

“He’s done really well for us since coming back from injury and, knowing Brian, he’ll be back even more determined.

“He’ll miss two games, but I’m sure he’ll be a massive player for us when he comes back for the last six games.”

Hard shift

Baird was substituted with 10 minutes left on Saturday having run himself into the ground as the lone striker.

“When you’re down to 10 men you’ve just got to go up on your own and do a job,” Baird said.

“It’s a hard shift but I did okay, and managed to get us a few corners. I think I tired them out for Damian to get his goal!”

Victory would have taken Rovers above Ayr in the table, and out of the relegation play-off position, but Baird believes the draw was still a decent outcome.

“It’s a big goal – and looking at other results it’s worked out well for us,” he said.

“If Ayr had beaten us, you would have to say they would not be far away from being out of it.

“But the draw keeps them in the pile, and we’re a point closer to Morton, and a point further away from Queen of the South, so we’re happy.

“I’ve always been positive about our chances of staying up because we’ve got the players to do it.

“It’s in our hands. We just need to win games and see where it takes us.”

In the jubilation that followed Casalinuovo’s equaliser delirious fans spilled onto the track to celebrate with the players.

And Baird urged the Rovers faithful to continue to show such passionate backing in the team’s remaining matches.

“It looked like there were more Raith supporters there on Saturday, and they are massive to us,” he said.

“They might be disappointed with this year compared to last year, but we need them to be there, and in numbers.

“The more of them at the games cheering us on the better.

“They’ve been great recently, and it’s no co-incidence our home form has improved.”