Raith Rovers lack quality in goalless draw with Forfar

Raith striker John Baird got no joy against his former club last night. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Raith striker John Baird got no joy against his former club last night. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers 0 Forfar Athletic 0

A wet and miserable Tuesday night at Stark's Park was compounded by the football on display in this dire goalless draw.

Raith Rovers missed their opportunity to return to the top of League One after failing to lay a glove on a Forfar side who had lost their last seven.

John McGlynn’s men went into the match without five key first team players with suspended duo Iain Davidson and Brad Spencer added to the injury list that includes Michael Miller, Regan Hendry and Lewis Vaughan.

The absences may have played some part in the lack of quality, but the squad available still should have been capable of winning this match.

To give Forfar credit they made life difficult, packing the defence, denying space and working hard.

But Raith played into their hands with abject sideways passing, often between the centre-backs, followed by punts up the park.

It was utterly ineffective, yet it was repeated throughout the 90 minutes.

Rovers can point to the clean sheet as a positive, but in truth they were rarely threatened by a Forfar side who lacked a threat and who were content to sit back.

Up front the partnership between Lewis Allan and John Baird bore no fruit whatsoever, while the midfield worked hard but created nothing.

The absences meant young dynamo Dylan Tait was given his chance and he impressed with his energy and willingness to get on the ball in the first 45 before fading in the second.

Very much one for the future.

The game was preceeded by a minute’s applause in honour of Martin Harvey, the former Raith Rovers assistant manager, who sadly passed away this week on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Coca-Cola Cup triumph, of which he was a key part.

Rovers started positively enough, and almost took the lead with just two minutes on the clock when Jamie Gullan forced Marc McCallum into a smart save with a powerful shot from 18 yards.

The attack continued and Kieran McDonald nutmegged his way into the box before firing over the bar.

That, however, was as exciting as it got.

Forfar went close with long range attempts from Dale Hilson and Mark Docherty, neither of which missed by much, but the longer the game wore on, the less interested the visitors became in venturing forward.

For Raith, Kieron Bowie did go close with a deflected cross that skimmed off the bar, before hobbling off with another ankle injury early in the second half - something that is developing into a worrying trend and that will have to be managed carefully going forward.

Dan Armstrong came on but took the wrong option in a rare promising attack, shooting wide from outside the box with good options left and right.

Other than that, Forfar were rarely troubled until the last minute of injury time, when their defence misjudged a kick-out from Ross Munro to put John Baird in the clear.

It was a chance for the striker to steal the points against his former club, but from a difficult angle, he drove the ball wide of the far post.

The full-time whistle brought groans of frustration from the home fans who know only too well how damaging to promotion hopes these results can be.

With just one win in their last six league outings, Rovers cannot afford to keep spilling points, although a congested league table would suggest everyone is in a similar boat.

They may be one point off the top, but if they are serious about winning the title this season, they need to get more ruthless in their pursuit of victories.