It was difficult to ascertain how the Raith Rovers support felt as they trooped out of Station Park at the weekend, following their 1-1 draw with Forfar Athletic.
Considering they’d been trailing for over an hour at a venue they traditionally struggle at, there was an element of relief, but that was also mixed with frustration, that the side had once again failed to acquire all three points against a team at the fag end of League One, despite racking up an abundance of opportunities to do so.
The fact that most, but not all fans were able to accentuate the positive, was allied to East Fife’s late equaliser against Airdrie, which kept John McGlynn’s men top of the table, although at one stage, with Airdrie and Falkirk both leading their respective matches as Rovers toiled to find an equaliser, they were sitting third.
In a division so tight, every slip is costly.
Something virtually everyone agreed on however, is that up until this term, Rovers probably wouldn’t have grabbed that solitary point.
On so many occasions following Rovers in the third tier, away games have felt like Groundhog Day, with mediocre performances being turned in by a team with an easily exploited soft centre, that all too often left visiting grounds with nothing.
That’s not to say the team’s away form has been great. Disappointing performances have still been turned in, most noticeably at Stranraer at the beginning of the season and Peterhead in November.
However, Saturday’s draw in Angus was the second time Rovers have come from behind at Station Park this term, following the 2-1 win in September, and there seems to be far more resilience about the 2019/20 vintage than the previous few seasons.
Indeed, only Airdrie have picked up more points on their travels in League One this season, and with five away wins under their belt this term, Raith have already matched their total from last season.
What Saturday’s draw underlines once again though, is that Rovers are quite the opposite of a flat track bully.
While most top of the table teams would reach that lofty position by turning over the stragglers, McGlynn’s men have often struggled against the current bottom five, with three of their four defeats coming against Peterhead, Dumbarton and Stranraer, while two draws against the Loons have also eroded Raith’s lead.
It’s difficult to pinpoint just why that is the case, although as chance after chance was frittered away at the weekend, it was difficult not to think where Rovers would be with an in-form goal scorer in the side.
With Falkirk able to rely on 14 goal Declan McManus, and Airdrie boasting Dale Carrick and Calum Gallagher who have 11 each in the league, Rovers seem somewhat lacking in that area, especially with Jamie Gullan returning to parent club Hibernian.
His departure means Rovers joint top league scorers have managed a miserly looking four each, and while it’s heartening to have goals throughout the side, with one of those two Michael Miller, it’s unlikely that any team has ever won a league with a right back as their deadliest marksman.
A prolific forward may be the most difficult thing to find in the winter window, but you sense Rovers might need to find one if they want to keep up their title push.