Season ends on a sour note for Raith

Joe Cardle in action for Raith Rovers against Livingston on Saturday. Pic: Neil Doig
Joe Cardle in action for Raith Rovers against Livingston on Saturday. Pic: Neil Doig
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Livingston 2 Raith Rovers 0

Raith Rovers’ season finished on another sour note as they passed up the chance to steal sixth place from a Livingston side that played most of Saturday’s match with 10 men.

The Kirkcaldy side were already a goal down by the time home defender Craig Sives saw red for a last man trip on Greig Spence, but their efforts to get back into the game in the 75 minutes that remained left a lot to be desired.

Despite the extra man there was little inspiration on show from the visitors, either by the men on the park, or those calling the shots in the dug-out.

A 2-0 defeat was exactly what Rovers deserved and a disgruntled travelling support made their feelings perfectly clear, leading to a somewhat muted reaction during the traditional end of season goodbyes after full-time.

A seventh place finish, just two points above relegation danger, is a considerable under-achievement for this squad.

The Ramsdens Cup win will go down as one of the club’s finest ever moments, but it stands as a solitary rose among the thorns of a campaign that has failed to meet expectations.

There is no doubt that the season has finished at the right time for Grant Murray and the players, who are coming under increasing fire from a discontented support.

A lot of hard work is required at Stark’s Park over the summer to lift the malaise, restore some confidence, and get a competitive team on the park ready for what will be an extremely challenging division next season.

Rovers missed three players through suspension on Saturday - Donaldson, Smith and Elliot - while Moon and Thomson both missed out through injury.

Despite this, Murray was still able to name a strong enough starting 11, although the performance was anything but strong.

It took Livi just eight minutes to make the breakthrough.

McNulty hit the by-line, unchallenged, to cut back for Mullen, unmarked, who slotted home as Raith were carved open with ease.

By the 15th minute though the home side were a man down as they played themselves into trouble at the back and Sives saw red for chopping down Spence as he stole possession and made a break for goal. Rovers put the Livi defence under some pressure in the lead up to half-time, and Joe Cardle was unlucky to see a 20-yard strike deflect onto the base of the post.

However, the second half performance was bordering on diabolical as Rovers negated their numerical advantage with lethargic work-rate and ineffective long balls.

The players couldn’t be any more in holiday mode if they had been playing in flip-flops.

Livingston defended comfortably and always looked more likely to increase their lead. Only missed chances prevented them from scoring earlier than the 80th minute.

Scott powered his way through Rovers tame midfield and slipped McNulty in behind a static Raith defence to drill an angled drive beyond Robinson.

It was thoroughly depressing stuff for Raith fans to watch, but that’s been the case most weeks since Christmas.

Drastic improvements are required.

Livingston: Jamieson, Fordyce, Talbot, O’Brien, Sives, Praprotnik (Mevlja 33), Kyle Jacobs, Keaghan Jacobs, Mullen (Denholm 79), McNulty (Rutherford 92), Scott. Not used: Beaumont, Walker, Burchill, Rutherford, Lander.

Raith Rovers: Robinson, Mullen, Booth, Fox, Watson, Hill, Cardle, Callachan (Vaughan 62), Spence, Baird, Anderson. Not used: Ellis, Laidlaw, Watson, Matthews, McCroary, Bates.

Referee: David Somers

Attendance: 1265