Queen Of The South
3 - 1
Robinson Sub3 Reid McGuffie Potter Holt McLaughlin McKenna Sub2 Johnston 1 Carmichael   Parkin Sub1 Smith
Atkinson Sub1-63 Reilly Sub3-81 Black McShane Sub2-76 Orsi
Queens make the trip to Kirkcaldy knowing that a win over Rovers will be a massive step towards first division survival and that should that not be possible the bare minimum required is to match Ayrs result if we are to prolong the struggle to the final week.
Queens boast an impressive record of late at Starks Park with three wins and a draw from our last four visits and this is the scene of our only away league victory of the season. With injury and suspension problems theres little choice available to boss Gus McPherson and its a fairly predictable starting line up but the bench is one of young players. Raith feature the ever dangerous John Baird, so often the scourge of Queens, together with ex Queens man Joe Hamill. Refereeing the game is Brian Colvin who took charge of Monday nights Youth Cup Final at Hampden and will hopefully not have as many goals to note down against us today.
In bright sunny conditions the game starts with Queens backed by a large turnout of assortedly dressed characters for the end of season fancy dress day out. Needing the win you would think we would take the game to Raith in an attempt to preserve our status but its far from that as Queens serve up yet another uninspired display.
The tone is set as early as the 3rd minute when Jamie Walker is allowed to run 30 yards unchallenged before shooting unhindered wide of the target. A few minutes later it takes a combination of Holt and Johnston to stop Thomson from bursting clear into our box as Rovers take command.
On loan Hearts youngster Jamie Walker is causing the problems as he hits a shot from 30 yards that deflects off Baird before he beats Holt out wide and makes it into the box before to his credit Holt recovers and makes a good tackle on the winger at the expense of a corner.
Raith are in control and its no surprise when they take the lead on 13 minutes. They pick up the ball in midfield and all of a sudden Holt finds himself facing two men, its played past him and crossed to the back post where Reid has two men against him so a simple header down finds Brian Graham and he is able to calmly turn on the ball and shoot past Robinson from the corner of the six yard area to put Rovers in front. The goal pretty much sums up the season as a whole, midfield lose the ball, defence out numbered and pulled all over the park trying to defend it and an easy chance for the striker.
We are almost at the quarter time mark when Queens make a first chance of the day. Carmichael wins a corner and this is whipped in missing Holts head and looks to be cleared off or near the line before it comes back in and Parkin heads it wide. McGurn gets his gloves dirty on 25 minutes as McGuffie sends a looping header back across goal to at least make the Rovers keeper make a save.
Our own keeper Robinson, one of the few who can really hold his head up this season, is by far the busier as he has to claim a cross off the head of Graham before he has to be livelily to come off his line and stop either Baird or Murray from getting onto a Graham knock down. In between those saves Kevin Smith had seen a shot deflected clear. Raith are soon back on the attack and Holt has to concede a corner that sees a long shot easily held by Robinson.
With 10 minutes left in the half Queens do finally fashion a good chance at the end of some good play. McLaughlin sends a good long pass to Johnston who finds Smith who sends in a cross that Parkin meets and forces McGurn into a good tip over. Johnston`s corner is met by a stooping header from Holt but this goes over. Theres little other meaningful action in the half save for a Smith shot that is well wide.
Half Time Raith Rovers 1 Queen of the South 0
With the news that Ayr also trail at home to Dundee at least we are matching Ayr and so can take it next week should we not be able to turn it round here. Its still very much a game there for the taking as despite a poor first half Raith themselves don`t look miles better than us and so surely having a go at them might just cause them a few flutters?
Nope would appear to be the answer early on as again Raith get an easy start to the half they pass their way through the Queens midfield before Baird shoots wide, Robinson takes a back heeled cross before he has to race out and take the ball off the foot of Allan Walker and then save from Jamie Walker as the keeper is all thats standing between us and a hiding.
Queens then break out and McKenna sends Johnston away and Magic feeds Carmichael, its back to Johnston and then onto McLaughlin who makes a shooting chance but puts it well wide from 20 yards. Theres a further nail in the relegation coffin hammered home on 54 minutes though as the Queens midfield give the ball away under little pressure and the wing man sends in a cross that has two Raith forwards waiting to knock it home and the man who gets there first is John Baird. 2-0 down and staring at division two so time to show our fighting spirit? Well for a while actually yes.
We hit back almost immediately as a cross finds Parkin and the big striker heads it down in the box and Danny Carmichael nips in to knock it past McGurn and give us hope that a fight back is on. Queens then break in numbers and the ball finds McKenna but his effort isn`t as that at Morton earlier in the season as this one finds the fans behind the goal.
The game now feels like the big do or die relegation battle that it is as it fairly goes end to end now as Robinson saves a Graham header and sets Queens off on a counter attack that sees Smith do well to at the second attempt win the ball back and cross to see a relived McGurn pluck off the head of big Danny Carmichael. Its Smiths last involvement as on the hour he is replaced by Gavin Reilly. To say the change is unpopular with the fans is putting it mildly though i guess (and it is a guess) that Kevin is struggling to get in 90 minutes these days, that said there looked other worthier candidates for replacing. News that Ayr have equalised and as it stands we are down doesn`t improve the mood any though.
Reilly is straight into action as he sends in a cross that has McGurn struggling before Holt does well to tackle back and win a lost ball and force a corner as Queens enjoy their best spell of the game so far. There is a scare at the other end though as Baird narrowly fails to get on the end of a cross before the fans are lifted by the news that Dundee have regained the lead and we are back in division 1 as it now stands. it nearly gets even better as its only a great last ditch block by Allan Walker on McGuffie that stops Ryan shooting from close range.
With a quarter of an hour left Daniel Orsi comes on for Alan Johnston as Daniel makes his return to the first team after a years absence following his knee injury at Stirling. He is on the park long enough to witness Walker set off on a mazy run through the Queens team to send in a shot that Robinson tips over, would have been a lovely goal from a player who was particularly impressive today.
Theres 10 minutes left when the crucial point of the game is reached. Queens have just introduced Black for Reid and Orsi makes progress down the wing passes to Parkin who plays it along the edge of the box to Holt who fires in a shot that is deflected for a corner. McLaughlins good delivery is met by Reilly and his header looks bound for the bottom corner but McGurn makes a superb diving full stretch save to push it away and keep his side in front.
That seems to knock any fight out of Queens and its only made by worse by news that Ayr have some fight and are back level and again we are division 2 bound. With time running out McLaughlin has a shot blocked before Robinson again saves a Raith shot. With time almost up Orsi wins a corner and its everyone up including Robinson for a last throw of the dice. McGurn easily holds the corner but with Robinson standing next to him he elects to hold the ball instead of shooting from 100 yards. Lee is able to get back easily enough as a Raith defender decides he is `injured` now and needs a wee lie down so McGurn throws it out.
With Queens waiting to throw it back in Ayr get a late winner to confirm they are staying up and we are not. Queens decide the defender was not really injured so don`t give it back but pay the price for it as when the ball is launched clear Black slips under it and Pat Clarke escapes and is able to roll it past the exposed Robinson to make it 3-1 deep into injury time.
Full Time Raith Rovers 3 Queen of the South 1
Whats looked probable for most of this forgettable season finally comes to pass and we end our spell in the first division with another lack lustre performance. A first relegation in 23 years and not much fight put up against it either.
Monday night at Hampden Park we watched a Queens youth team hopelessly outgunned by Celtic but that in the last minute had players racing back to win back possession despite being eight goals down. Thats maybe something watching senior colleagues should have noted.
Its been pretty apparent (hasn`t it?) where our failings have been this season but the one area of the team that has performed this season is the keeper and again today but for Robinson the margin of defeat would have been a lot more.
Good to see Daniel Orsi make his return from injury and with him, Gavin Reilly, Kevin Holt, Stephen Black and Danny Carmichael we have the basis of a new young side that may just help more experienced colleagues make a swift return to this division.However it is to be division two for us next season and returns to old haunts for older fans and some new places for new fans.