Raith Rovers break Caley curse to go two points clear at top of table
Prior to Saturday, the last time the Kirkcaldy club had beaten Inverness Caledonian Thistle was up north back in October 2000, thanks to Jay Stein and Ivan Mballa goals, with Paul Sheerin replying for the hosts.
They’ve played competitively 33 times since, with Thistle winning 23 of those preceding 32 matches, seven being drawn and the Fifers twice prevailing in cup-tie penalty shootouts, in November 2020 and November 2021.
Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Kirkcaldy’s Stark’s Park was the first time Raith had come up trumps over 90 minutes for 23 years and only the fourth time this century, however, October 2000’s 2-1 result having followed on from wins at home that year by 4-1 in August and 2-0 in April.
Substitute Jamie Gullan secured this season’s form-book-defying three-point haul on 87 minutes, only two minutes after being brought off the bench to replace Sam Stanton.
Better still for manager Ian Murray’s side, their fourth win of the season, in front of a crowd of 2,846, stretches their unbeaten start to this campaign to five fixtures and sends them to the top of the Scottish Championship table, with 13 points to their name, two clear of second-placed Dundee United, ahead of a trip to their gaffer’s previous side, Airdrieonians, this coming Saturday.
Inverness did get the ball in the net in the first half but that Danny Devine effort was ruled offside and Raith had goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski to thank for their clean sheet at the break, keeping out shots by Nathan Shaw, Charlie Gilmour and Max Anderson and a Morgan Boyes, with a Liam Dick block denying Billy Mckay too.
Lewis Vaughan had a chance at the other end in the second half but visiting keeper Mark Ridgers was equal to it.
Gullan’s goal wasn’t his only contribution to Raith’s efforts up front as, prior to netting, he also put a free-kick over the crossbar and almost forced Cammy Harper into an own goal.
Murray was chuffed to bits to see his side grind out a result on Saturday after a sluggish start, telling Raith TV afterwards: “It was a poor quality game, for different reasons.
“We couldn’t quite get ourselves going in the first half in terms of clicking in the forward areas and couldn’t keep possession high up the park like we like to but some weeks it’s going to be like that.
“You could see what we were trying to do but we just couldn’t do it.
“I wouldn’t say we were fortunate to be level at half-time but we could easily have been behind. Kevin pulled off two very good saves and we didn’t really trouble Mark Ridgers in their goal.
“In the second half, we were more dominant in possession.
“Overall, I was delighted with a 1-0 win and another good result at Stark’s.”
“We were delighted to win the game and we were delighted to get that hoodoo off our back as well.
“It’d been an incredible run of games against Inverness. It was madness, to be quite frank.”