A poor performance in Kirkcaldy today saw Queens slip to another away defeat and drop a place back to 8th in the Championship. After last week`s win over Morton it was no surprise to see the same team named again with exactly the same bench also. However, it was far from the same result and too many players on the day seemed a step slower than their opponents.
Rovers started brightly and could easily have had the lead inside three minutes as a right sided cross drifted over everyone and was met at the back post by Joe Cardle. The former Dunfermline winger cut inside and fired a powerful shot at goal that Zander Clark did well to parry out for a corner. Derek Young in particular seemed to be struggling today and was replaced by Stephen McKenna after just 35 minutes. Before he went though his slip in giving away possession earned his captain Chris Higgins a yellow card when he was forced to obstruct a breaking Raith player to stall the attack.
Danny rounds his marker
Just before Young left the park Mark Durnan sliced a clearance back towards his own goal and had Clark scrambling backwards. Fortunately the ball missed the top corner of the net and resulted only in a corner which was easily cleared. Clark again came to the rescue of Queens on 41 minutes when he had to change direction and scramble across his goal to clutch Dougie Hill`s deflected shot before it crossed the line. The best chance of the half though was still to come and arrived in injury time from a Queens free kick in a good position on the left side. Mitchell`s ball in failed to trouble the defence and was thumped clear up the park where Kevin Holt got caught under it and missed the flight of the ball. That set Greig Spence away clear on goal and it seemed certain he would give his side a deserved lead. Clark however had other ideas and stood big, blocking the striker`s shot with his feet in the end.
Queens certainly improved in the second period and started it quite brightly. Gavin Reilly broke forward and, despite the ball appearing to strike a defender`s hand, got a shot away which was blocked. The rebound fell for Danny Carmichael but his shot went wide of target from close range. A minute later Iain Russell too had an opportunity from close in but his effort was blocked out for a corner by Raith`s captain, Jason Thomson.
Just before the hour mark Ross Laidlaw in the home goal made a fine save to deny Chris Higgins a headed goal and Carmichael again missed with the rebound. However, the deadlock was not long in being broken. A missed header allowed Chris Mitchell freedom to get away down the right and his low cross was slammed into the net by Gavin Reilly. The goal wasn`t really against the run of play at the time but Raith could consider themselves very unlucky over the piece to be behind. They weren`t behind for long though. Just over a minute later Calum Elliot equalised, firing into the bottom left corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area. Queens immediately replaced Derek Lyle with Paul Burns before play re-started whilst Raith sent on Gordon Smith in place of Spence soon after. Ten minutes later there were another couple of changes as Ellis replaced the injured Hill for Raith whilst Michael Paton came on for Iain Russell for Queens.
Gavin Reilly scores
but Raith equalise straight away
The game`s moment of controversy arrived with quarter of an hour to go. Calum Elliot went down injured after clashing heads with one of his team-mates in trying to get on the end of a cross and play was stopped on halfway. It wasn`t clear to me, as I was looking at Elliot, who had the ball at the time but play re-started with a drop ball. Raith did not contest the drop-ball and clearly expected Queens to give them the ball back. We didn`t though and instead played it wide to Burns who ran forward with the ball and played a pass down the wing to set up an attack. Gavin Reilly nearly turned the ball into the net but was denied by a last ditch defensive block. It should clearly have been a corner but the referee decided a goal kick was the best course of action!
Reilly almost scores from a chance created by an unchallenged drop ball that should have been challenged.
Calum Elliot should have won the game for Raith on 85 minutes when a low cross ball found him on his own about four yards out but the ball was slightly behind him and in reaching back for it he succeeded only in turning it over the crossbar. A minute later though the same player did grab a winner. This time Queens gave the ball away cheaply and Joe Cardle escaped down the left side. Neither Mitchell nor McKenna could get to him and he fired in a low cross which deflected off McKenna but landed right behind Elliot about 12 yards out. The big striker showed great control to gather the ball in, turn and shoot home into the bottom right corner beyond Clark`s despairing dive. Both Durnan and Reilly had headers saved in injury time but neither really troubled Laidlaw to any extent.
So a disappointing performance and defeat in Fife. We`ll clearly need to play better than this if we are to have a chance of collecting a hat-trick of wins over St Mirren this season in next weekend`s Scottish Cup tie.