Raith reach tipping point in derby defeat

It's grim viewing for Raith manager Grant Murray and first team coach Laurie Ellis at Central Park on Saturday. Pic: Neil Doig
It's grim viewing for Raith manager Grant Murray and first team coach Laurie Ellis at Central Park on Saturday. Pic: Neil Doig

Cowdenbeath 1 Raith Rovers 0

Every team on a bad run reaches a tipping point, and for Raith Rovers theirs came at Central Park on Saturday.

In isolation, a 1-0 defeat at the delipated home of Cowdenbeath is not something that would automatically lead you to question a team’s character or commitment.

Better sides than Raith could easily come unstuck at such a horrible stadium, on such a horrible day, against a team with the Championship’s most potent strike pairing.

But on the back of a dreadful run of form, such an abject display in an important derby match just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Rovers hardly threatened the Cowdenbeath goal, while were it not for some smart Ross Laidlaw saves and poor finishing, the margin of defeat would have been worse.

Even harder to stomach was the percentage of 50-50 challenges - be it headers or tackles - that Rovers shyed away from.

It looked like Cowdenbeath wanted it more, while tactically, Rovers were unable to come up with any answers to what is now a five-game goal drought.

The result means Rovers are now the worst team in the league over the last eight games, and fans are now at a point where enough is enough.

There was clearly a lot of anger in the away stand on Saturday which transferred onto social media after the match – some of it over the top, but some of it justified.

Most of them are asking the same question: How can a team go from 10 games unbeaten to rock bottom of the form guide?

The quality is still there, but the application and desire to win from earlier in the season, and the spirit that carried the team to a cup final, has evaporated.

This is a good Raith team in need of a swift kick up the backside - and if the players are not going to deliver it themselves, then it has to come from the manager.

The inclusion of Baird in the starting line-up, brought back to the club for a second spell following his release from Partick, drew cheers and applause from the Raith end prior to kick-off.

However, he was largely starved of service and only had one glimpse of goal in his 76 minutes on the park.

It came in the 22nd minute and it was Rovers best chance as the striker peeled away from his marker to get his head to Cardle’s cross eight yards out, but he couldn’t keep his effort under the bar.

Most of the good attacking play was in the other direction as Hemmings and Stewart - who have 27 goals between them - linked superbly.

Laidlaw made a good diving save from a Fowler shot as Rovers were cut open down the left on six minutes, and then the big ‘keeper showed great reactions to parry Hemmings point-blank diving header five minutes after the break with the defence caught flat-footed.

As the second half wore on a winning goal always looked more likely to come from the hosts and so it proved in the 70th minute as Milne’s deep corner was headed back across goal by Armstrong and Hemmings forced it in from close range.

The rest of the match was a procession of Rovers failing to break down a resilient Cowdenbeath defence, while being continually caught on the break and fortunate not to concede a second.

Only Laidlaw, Hill and Moon put in the required shift that justified their starting place, while Baird can be excused for a lack of match sharpness.

The rest should be looking in the mirror this week.