Solid defence provides platform for Raith victory

Raith Rovers 1 Queen of the South 0

Raith Rovers maintained their 100 per cent home record with a hard fought 1-0 win over Queen of the South.

The Kirkcaldy side made it five wins from five at Stark’s Park this season thanks to a Kyle Benedictus header 12 minutes from time.

It was fitting that a centre-half should score the winning goal as the Raith defence provided the platform for the victory with a strong performance against some sustained second half pressure from Queens.

Rovers were not at their best but dug deep for the points, leaving manager Ray McKinnon delighted with the response following last week’s 5-0 defeat at Ibrox.

“It was a good win, and it was nice to get last week’s defeat out of the way,” he said.

“I thought we were excellent in the first half, got into some great areas, and controlled the game.

“There was just a wee bit lack of quality in the wide areas, and I thought it might hurt us.

“The second half was a much more difficult game, I thought Queens were excellent, but we stuck at it and got the victory.”

McKinnon made one change from the defeat at Ibrox, bringing Craig Wighton back into the starting line-up in place of Mark Stewart.

An evenly contested first half ended goalless, with neither side able to make much of an impression in the final third.

Kevin Cuthbert was the first goalkeeper called into action in the 12th minute with a diving save to keep out Ryan Conroy’s 25-yard free-kick.

Raith’s best chance of the half arrived four minutes later as Ryan McCord’s corner fell to Lewis Toshney in space but the defender snatched his volley over the bar.

There was a let off for Raith on 19 minutes when Gary Oliver sent a free header wide from six yards, while at the other end, Grant Anderson was inches away with a looping header.

Queens upped the tempo after the break and made strong claims for a penalty when Conroy’s struck appeared to strike Toshney’s hand, but referee Kevin Clancy was unmoved.

Raith had dropped out the game and McKinnon responded by bringing Mark Stewart off the bench in place of Ryan McCord, but Queens continued to dominate.

A crucial moment arrived in the 70th minute as Cuthbert made a stunning one-handed save to keep out an Andy Dowie header before defender Rory McKeown cleared off the line.

Raith were struggling to get back into the game but a double change on 74 minutes - introducing Mitch Megginson and Ross Matthews off the bench - injected some life into the side and, four minutes later, the hosts grabbed the winner against the run of play.

James Craigen’s corner was cleared back to his feet, and the midfielder’s second delivery was powered home by the unmarked Benedictus.

Jon Daly had a gilt-edged chance to seal the points in the 83rd minute but he failed to hit the target with a free header from Craigen’s corner.

That miss meant Raith endured a nervy final five minutes as Queens piled on the pressure but the defence and Cuthbert held firm for an important win.

Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Thomson, McKeown, Toshney, Benedictus, Anderson (Matthews 74), McCord (Stewart 59), Davidson, Craigen, Daly, Wighton (Megginson 74). Not used: Laidlaw, Ellis, Ford, Campbell.

Queen of the South: Thomson, Dowie, Brownlie, Higgins, Harris (Hutton 68), Lyle, Conroy, Russell (Kidd 71), Jacobs (Smith 81), Marshall, Oliver. Not used: Heffernen, Pickard, Coogans.

Referee: Kevin Clancy

Attendance: 1527