Raith Rovers’ title challenge fading after goalless draw with Partick Thistle leaves Fifers six points off top spot

Dylan Easton being tackled from behind by Aaron Muirhead during Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Dylan Easton being tackled from behind by Aaron Muirhead during Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Dylan Easton being tackled from behind by Aaron Muirhead during Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Being held to a goalless draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday, a day after Dundee United’s 4-1 thumping of Greenock Morton away, has left Raith Rovers six points adrift of the table-toppers with only nine points left to play for.

Football’s Scottish Championship title is now United’s to lose as they’re in pole position with 68 points from 33 fixtures, the second-placed Fifers being on 62 from the same number of games, with Partick a distant third, on 51 from 33.

The Kirkcaldy club’s run-in consists of a trip to third-from-bottom former bogey team Inverness Caledonian Thistle this Friday, with kick-off at 7.45pm, followed by an away-day at seventh-placed Morton and a visit from basement side Arbroath.

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Their goal difference being 36 better, one win or three draws from visits from Ayr United and Partick, the former being this coming Saturday, and a trip to Airdrieonians will secure promotion back to the Scottish Premiership for manager Jim Goodwin’s United side.

Jack Hamilton on the attack during Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Jack Hamilton on the attack during Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Jack Hamilton on the attack during Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

His opposite number Ian Murray’s team have only managed one win in their last five fixtures, at home to Ayr earlier this month, leaving play-offs looking a likelier outcome than silverware.

A free-kick by Thistle midfielder Blair Alston as full-time approached was the closest thing to a goal witnessed by the 3,928 supporters at Stark’s Park at the weekend but it was kept out by home goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski’s crossbar.

Murray was glad to see his side secure second place at least with the point they picked up against Partick but disappointed not to be giving United more of a run for their money, telling Raith TV: “I’m delighted, I have to say.

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“Congratulations first and foremost to the players and the football club.

Lewis Vaughan in action during Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Lewis Vaughan in action during Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Lewis Vaughan in action during Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

“We still have three games to go and we’re 20 points ahead of fifth place, so that’s really, really positive.

“We’d have loved to have been closer to Dundee United at this stage of the season, of courese we would, but if we’re being realistic, looking back over the season, the boys have done amazingly, they really, really have.

“They should really have their heads held high, as should the whole football club, supporters as well.

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“We all want to win games every single week. Unforunately it’s not that easy.

Manager Ian Murray watching Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Manager Ian Murray watching Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Manager Ian Murray watching Raith Rovers' 0-0 draw at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

“We work extremely hard every week to try and get three points but its not always the case that we do.

“The season’s far from over for us. Regardless of our position, we’ll try to win our next three games, it’s as simple as that.”

High winds left both hosts and visitors struggling to play the way they’d have liked to, according to Murray, adding: “It was really difficult. That’s two Saturdays in a row now here that the wind’s picked up and made life difficult for players on both sides.

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“It was really, really hard to try to carry out basic tasks at times but what both teams did was give us plenty of endeavour, plenty of workrate and plenty of hunger to try to win the game.

“I felt that, over the piece of the game, we probably shaded it.

“The league table suggest second v third would be tight and today was exactly that.”

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