Raith Rovers close in on play-off spot with win over Queens
Raith Rovers took a huge step towards securing a play-off position with a 1-0 away win over Queen of the South.
A first half goal from Gozie Ugwu was enough to take the three points which leaves the Stark’s Park side two points clear of Dundee in second place in the table after the Dens Park side drew a blank with Dunfermline at East End Park.
They won’t admit as much at Stark’s Park, but this crucial victory almost assures Rovers of a place in the top four.
Raith boss John McGlynn made three changes from Saturday’s draw with Arbroath.
Kieron MacDonald, Dylan Tait and Lewis Vaughan dropped out to be replaced by Iain Davidson, Adam King and Ugwu and it was the striker who scored what would prove to be the crucial opening goal on his return to the starting XI.
Dan Armstrong’s attempted backheel took a deflection but it still found its way to Regan Tumilty and the right back’s low cross was knocked in at the front post by Ugwu to put Raith 1-0 up after 17 minutes.
Three minutes later though the visitors received a warning as Queens fashioned their best chance of the half.
The Raith defence was caught napping and striker Dapo Mebude found himself with plenty of space in the box but he misjudged his attempt from Willie Gibson’s cross and it went way over Jamie MacDonald’s bar.
Armstrong hit a shot high over the bar before Ugwu should maybe have done better with an angled drive on 35 minutes but Queens keeper Rohan Ferguson blocked well with his feet.
The second half was a bit more of an open affair and it was the home side who created more openings than their opponents.
On 52 minutes Gregor Buchanan’s shot was slightly too high but 60 seconds later it should have been 1-1.
Rangers loanee Cairan Dixon challenged for the ball at the edge of the six yard box and when it fell to him he trundled it narrowly wide of the post when he should have scored.
Five minutes later and Allan Johnston’s side passed up another glorious opportunity to level the score.
A corner saw the ball land at the feet of centre half Ayo Obileye and somehow from inside the six yard box he scooped it over the bar.
With 10 minutes to go the Rovers goal continued to lead a charmed life when Mebude had another attempt on goal which wasn’t too far wide, but that was the last effort of the game from the home side.
With three minutes to go Rovers came close to sealing the win in glorious fashion when Regan Hendry went on a run from the halfway line and seemingly took on half of the Queens players before the ball ran away from him, just as he was about to shoot from inside the Queens box.
Ultimately what decided this match taking chances – Queens missed theirs and Rovers made sure of the only clear cut one that came their way, leaving them on the cusp of an opportunity to play for promotion to the Premiership.