Even the good performances are not producing results

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SUCH is life for Raith Rovers at the moment that even good performances are not producing points.

Before Christmas, the Kirkcaldy men travelled to Firhill to face a Partick Thistle side that was top of division one, played them off the park, but left with nothing.

History repeated itself at Cappielow on Saturday as Rovers again out-classed the current league leaders on their own patch, this time Morton, without getting anything for their efforts.

The first words out of Morton boss Allan Moore’s mouth after the match were an admission that his team had “stolen” the win, but that will be of little consolation to a Rovers side stuck in a losing rut.

While the performance was a lot more encouraging than recent defeats to Livingston and Hamilton, the blunt reality is that Raith have tasted victory just once in their last 10 league games.

They’ve taken just six points from a possible 30, which puts them alongside the current bottom two, Airdrie and Cowdenbeath, in the form book, and this Raith squad should be better than that.

Saturday’s loss basically boiled down to one shanked clearance and a catalogue of missed chances, with Pat Clarke in particular having one of those days in front of goal.

Having used a midweek friendly to experiment with team shape, Grant Murray lined his players up in a 4-2-3-1 system - a formation used by a lot of Europe’s top clubs.

It placed a lot of responsibility on Joe Hamill and Stuart Anderson in the holding midfield roles - and they both had good games.

In front of them, David Smith, Pat Clarke and Allan Walker were given licence to push forward and support lone striker Brian Graham.

The result was a well-balanced team that restricted Morton to very little clear-cut opportunities, but also carried a threat at the other end.

You could argue that the improvement in performance was down to the change in team shape, or team attitude.

There is a probably an element of truth in both.

The first half belonged to Raith with two major moments - and both should have resulted in goals.

The first arrived in the 19th minute as Clarke failed to convert what can only be described as a sitter.

After passing their way into the Morton box the ball broke kindly for Clarke, but with all the time in the world, six yards out, he shot wide.

Morton ‘keeper Derek Gaston ensured Raith’s next big chance also went begging as he touched Graham’s effort inches wide of the post after the striker latched onto a short pass back.

Rovers were punished for those misses eight mintues after the break when Simon Mensing’s sclaffed clearance fell to Michael Tidser on the edge of the box and he cracked a stunning volley past David McGurn.

It was Morton’s first shot on target, and one of only two they would manage in the entire 90 minutes.

The remaineder of the match followed the pattern of the first as Raith pinned Morton back and created chances, but failed to take any of them.

Clarke had a goal-bound shot from a Smith cut-back deflected just wide, then saw another attempt cleared off the line after a brilliant turn in the box created the space for the shot.

Graham also blasted over from 12 yards when a cool head was called for, while Gaston made a full stretch save to keep out a Graham header.

Whether it was deflections, blocks, saves or a bad miss, Raith simply couldn’t get the goal their performance deserved.

For a team riding high at the top of the table Morton were surprisingly poor - but its teams who can take three points from an off day that win leagues.

Raith are just left wondering where their next win is coming from.


Twitter: @mattelder_ffp