Deja vu as sub Jamie Gullan nets late winner for Raith Rovers against Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Like their 1-0 win in Kirkcaldy in September, ending what the Fifers’ fans called a Caley curse stretching back 23 years, manager Ian Murray’s side left it late to secure victory and, also like two months ago, they had striker Jamie Gullan to thank.
A Billy Mckay header just after the hour mark from a David Wotherspoon delivery, his third goal in four games and sixth of the season, put the hosts in front at the Caledonian Stadium and that’s the way it stayed until four minutes ahead of the final whistle.
Lewis Vaughan levelled with a deflected low shot past home goalkeeper Mark Ridgers from a Josh Mullin assist on 86 minutes, 76 minutes after thinking he’d put Raith ahead only for referee Duncan Williams to judge that his apparent opener, from a corner, hadn’t got completely over the line.
They’d left it late again but momentum was now with Rovers and they capitalised via a Gullan penalty four minutes into stoppage time, awarded for a foul on midfielder Sam Stanton by Luis Longstaff, a sequel to the 73rd-minute substitute’s match-winner three minutes from full-time, and two minutes after coming off the bench, at Stark’s Park in September.
Prior to that victory, the last time the Kirkcaldy club had beaten Thistle was up north back in October 2000, thanks to goals from Jay Stein and Ivan Mballa goals, with Paul Sheerin replying, and they’d played 33 times in the interim, with the Highlanders winning 23 of those preceding 32 games, seven being drawn and the Fifers twice getting the better of cup-tie penalty shootouts, in November 2020 and November 2021.
Saturday’s 2-1 victory, in front of a crowd of 2,143, was only the fifth time this century that Raith, captained by defender Liam Dick in Scott Brown’s absence, had come up trumps against the Caley Jags over 90 minutes, 2000’s success having followed wins at home that year by 4-1 in August and 2-0 in April.
Saturday’s defeat was Caley’s first under new manager Duncan Ferguson in eight games in all competitions and also their first since a 1-0 loss at home to table-toppers Dundee United in September, a week after the loss away to Raith that led to previous gaffer Billy Dodds being sacked.
Their ninth win of the season takes Raith, now on 30 points from 13 fixtures, to within a point of United, out of action at the weekend due to their scheduled game at Greenock Morton being called off because their hosts’ pitch was frozen.
Next up for them is a televised visit from third-placed Partick Thistle this Friday, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Murray was delighted to head back south with all three points, telling Raith TV: “We knew it was a long time since Raith won up here and it’s a very difficult place to come.
“I felt we were well worth our victory. I thought we did really, really well, particularly in the first half.
“The least we deserved was a point, so to get all three in the fashion that we got them, I can’t ask for too much more.”