Rovers pinch a point after almost stealing the win

KIRKCALDY ;'Raith Rovers v Greenock Morton ;'Brian Graham celebrates his 2nd goal with Greig Spence'Photographer ; Walter Neilson
KIRKCALDY ;'Raith Rovers v Greenock Morton ;'Brian Graham celebrates his 2nd goal with Greig Spence'Photographer ; Walter Neilson

THE strangest thing about Saturday’s match was that Raith Rovers almost won it.

Had Greig Spence’s goal five minutes from time proved to be the winner it would have gone down as a phenomenal Rovers victory - because they would have got away with daylight robbery.

You only had to look at the faces of the two managers after the game to decipher which of the two teams was happier with the draw.

And it wasn’t the team that scored the late equaliser.

Morton gaffer Allan Moore felt it was the most one-sided 3-3 he’d ever seen, and it was hard to argue his point.

The visitors from Greenock bossed the game, and only some superb saves from young Ross Laidlaw, including a terrific penalty stop, prevented them from winning comfortably.

But for the sharp finishing of strikers Graham and Spence, who made the most of the few chances Rovers served up in the 90 minutes, Morton would have won hands down.

Graham’s brace took his season’s tally to 17 making him comfortably the division’s hottest scorer, while Clarke and Spence now have 15 between them.

Going forward, Rovers are really looking the part, and when it comes to character, few teams can top them.

There are problems that need addressed however, none more so than defending at set pieces.

Two of Morton’s goals were free headers from corner kicks. Raith missed the height of Simon Mensing in the box, but there’s no excuse for bad marking.

Raith were equally susceptible from open play with a reshaped midfield appearing out-numbered, despite Grant Murray changing formation to ensure they weren’t.

The altered tactics, playing with one striker, two out and out wingers, and three central midfielders did not seem to work as Murray had hoped.

By matching Morton’s shape he perhaps showed them too much respect and it was only when Spence was brought on with 20 minutes left to partner Graham in attack that Rovers started to look dangerous.

Rovers could consider themselves very lucky to be level at the break. Morton took an early lead when Kevin Rutkiewicz lost his marker at a corner to power home a free header.

It should have been 2-0 when the left side of Rovers defence vanished to leave David Graham a free run on goal. Luckily for Raith, he dragged his shot wide.

Rovers punished that miss in the 23rd minute with a Graham finish that oozed confidence as he first-timed a left-foot shot into the roof of the net.

The equaliser did not dent Morton’s control of the match, and Laidlaw was called upon to make stunning saves to keep out Farid Bachirou and Martin Hardie’s spot-kick, which came after a soft award.

Hardie appeared to collide with Eddie Malone, rather than the other way around.

Morton stepped up the pressure after the break and winger David O’Brien eventually got the better of Laidlaw in the 65th minute with a cleverly dinked effort.

Murray responded by taking off midfielder Joe Hamill, putting on striker Spence, and his impact was immediate.

His first involvement saw him turn a defender before unselfishly squaring for Graham to tap home the equaliser.

Spence’s energy gave Rovers a new lease of life and he got on the end of a Grant Anderson’s near post cross to sweep Rovers into a 3-2 lead five minutes from time.

It was an astonishingly fortunate scoreline, but Rovers left Hardie unmarked to head home Tidser’s corner in the 88th minute and the spoils were shared.