No case for the defence as Raith’s winless run hits 10

Falkirk 'keeper Michael McGovern gets his fingers to a John Baird goal-bound shot to prevent Raith taking a 3-1 lead on Saturday. Pic: Neil Doig
Falkirk 'keeper Michael McGovern gets his fingers to a John Baird goal-bound shot to prevent Raith taking a 3-1 lead on Saturday. Pic: Neil Doig

Raith Rovers 2 Falkirk 4

Solve one problem then another crops up.

That is the current predicament facing Raith boss Grant Murray after his team lost 4-2 at home for the second time in a fortnight.

After a spell of five league games without a goal - or a win - at the start of 2014, Raith are back to creating chances and hitting the net regularly.

However, games are still not being won and the blame for that has now turned to a defence that has started to leak at an alarming rate.

Even a strike-force of Ronaldo and Messi would struggle to save a team that concedes four goals at home every week!

The manager has changed goalkeeper and tried four different centre-half combinations over the last five games.

It seems to have created instability but Murray’s search for his strongest back four may be about to be solved by the return of Paul Watson, who featured as an unused sub on Saturday.

The last time the former Livingston centre-back featured in a first team game Rovers were third in the table, five points off the top.

Saturday’s defeat to Falkirk may have had the same outcome as the Hamilton game two weeks earlier, but the circumstances on this occasion were somewhat different.

While Rovers found themselves 4-0 down at half-time against Accies, on Saturday they were 2-1 ahead at the same stage, and deservedly so.

The fragility in defence was exposed by Falkirk’s 18th minute opener when in a panic to clear a corner kick, Rovers managed to put the ball into their own net.

There was a cluster of Raith players inside the six yard box who could’ve cleared Mark Beck’s knock-down, but no one took charge and the ball bounced into the net off Hill.

Rovers showed that despite the current bad run there is still character in the side as they turned the deficit into a lead by half-time.

Grant Anderson’s superb run and cross was bulleted home by the head of John Baird in the 23rd minute, then five minutes later Anderson was upended in the box for a soft-looking penalty, and Calum Booth fired straight down the middle to put Rovers 2-1 ahead.

Had Michael McGovern not made a wonder save to prevent Baird from giving Rovers a 3-1 half-time lead then Saturday’s second half may have taken a different course.

But there seemed to be a change in mentality from Raith after the break, particulalry after losing an equaliser inside just 40 seconds of the re-start.

Allowing David McCracken a free run into the six-yard box to volley in Beck’s flick-on from a long throw was on a par with Sunday league defending.

Rovers lost their first half spark but they did not stop trying to get their noses back in front with Baird, Anderson and Cardle looking to make things happen at every opportunity. Their cause was not helped by a referee who seemed to miss three blatant corners during a period of sustained Rovers pressure.

However, Falkirk were the ones creating the better chances and when Rory Loy drifted into the box unmarked on 71 minutes to chip a shot beyond Robinson, you could see Rovers’ heads drop.

For the final 20 minutes they resembled a team stuck in losing habit - all effort but no conviction - and Mark Millar’s free-kick stunner in the 87th minute only confirmed what was already coming.

The defeat means Rovers have taken just three points out of the last 30 - relegation form - but the points gained at the start of the season are keeping their heads above water.

That buffer will soon evaporate if results do not improve, and the home game against castaways Morton a week on Saturday is about as must win as they come.