Raith Rovers 4-3 Partick Thistle: Raith boss Ian Murray hails strength of his squad after two late goals send Rovers top of Championship

A dream night for Raith Rovers on Friday saw them go two points clear at the top of the Scottish Championship with a thrilling 4-3 home comeback victory over Partick Thistle at Stark’s Park.
Sam Stanton celebrates scoring Raith winner against Partick Thistle with Jack Hamilton and Dylan Easton (Pics by Fife Photo Agency)Sam Stanton celebrates scoring Raith winner against Partick Thistle with Jack Hamilton and Dylan Easton (Pics by Fife Photo Agency)
Sam Stanton celebrates scoring Raith winner against Partick Thistle with Jack Hamilton and Dylan Easton (Pics by Fife Photo Agency)

In front of the live BBC TV cameras, Raith recorded their fifth consecutive win in league and cups and made it 11 matches unbeaten.

Ian Murray’s side looked comfortable as Dan O’Reilly’s first half header and Dylan Easton’s stunning solo goal just a minute into the second half deservedly gave them a two-goal cushion.

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But a poor spell in which Rovers looked vulnerable to Thistle’s attacks saw Kris Doolan’s side turn the match on its head courtesy of an O’Reilly own goal, Brian Graham’s 59th-minute penalty and Blair Alston’s close range strike.

Ian Murray wrapped up against the cold on Friday nightIan Murray wrapped up against the cold on Friday night
Ian Murray wrapped up against the cold on Friday night

Murray’s men have proved masters of recovery in recent matches – they had recovered from a one-goal deficit with just four minutes remaining to win 2-1 at Inverness Caledonian Thistle in their last league match the previous weekend – and that resilient quality was to come to the fore once again.

The Kirkcaldy side’s squad depth proved key to a very strong final 25 minutes as they threw on Callum Smith, Aidan Connolly, Scott Brown and Jamie Gullan in a bid to turn the game around and the much welcome four fesh sets pairs of legs bore fruit in spectacular fashion.

Smith equalised with a powerful low strike before Raith’s fans were sent into raptures when midfielder Sam Stanton slotted home after great set-up play by Smith on the right.

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The result means that leaders Raith sit on 33 points from 14 matches, two points ahead of second-placed Dundee United whose game in hand will be played at home to Ayr United today with a 3pm kick-off at Tannadice.

Delighted gaffer Murray told the BBC post match: "I do not think it is a coincidence how many late goals we have scored this season. It is not just the physical aspect, it is also the mental aspect.

"The players deserve all the credit coming their way. I would prefer it was the end of May, but I am delighted. We have worked incredibly hard, but it is a long way to go.

"A lot of energy was spent on the touchline tonight trying to galvanise us again.

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"Because we go 3-2 down in the blink of an eye really but that’s football.

"I think as a manager you’re always looking at the negative side in your head, trying not to let that vibrate to the players.

"We know Partick are a good side.

"I thought we scored that second goal a wee bit too early. They’ve got loads of time to come back into the game and they score poor goals from our point of view defensively to be honest. I’m not too happy with that.

"Blair Alston has ghosted in at the back post and he’s done that for years. The only saving grace I could have taken from that at that time is we had loads of time and we had loads of energy on the bench tonight which again has shown how important a good bench is, a good squad is, and the hunger’s there.

"For the fourth goal we take a really quick free-kick and then we have a really good finish with good quality from Sam Stanton.”