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Preview: St Mirren v Raith Rovers

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Preview: St Mirren v Raith Rovers
Alex Rae’s St Mirren and Ray McKinnon’s Raith Rovers side go head to head for the last time this season when they meet this evening at the Paisley 2021 Stadium.
The side from the ‘Kingdom of Fife’ have had the upper hand over the three previous meetings this term with 7 points collected from the 9 available. The first meeting on 18th September last year was a Friday night match-up in Paisley that saw the visitors well on the top in the first half thanks to a fantastic finish from James Craigen early in the match. Against the run of play Saints pulled level just ahead of the half-time break with a strike from Lawrence Shankland. Saints were on top for most of the second half but were sucker-punched in the dying minutes of the game when a long throw-in via a touch from Jon Daly found its way through to Grant Anderson who forced the ball home from close range.
At the end of November St Mirren made the return trip to Kirkcaldy in a game that Rovers were pretty much on top for the most part as the home side took a one goal advantage into the break thanks to Mark Stewart following up from a parry by Jamie Langfield and netting the ball to open the scoring. It looked as if the points were staying at Stark’s Park but Stephen Mallan stepped up to thunder a free-kick into the back of the net for a last minute goal that earned a share of the points.
The last meeting between the sides was earlier this month when the fans were treated to a 7 goals extravaganza at Kirkcaldy. Rovers raced into an early lead when Ryan Hardie sprung the offside trap to fire a shot past Langfield. Mark Stewart made it 2-0 midway through the first half but Keith Watson reduced the deficit just before half-time as the big defender bulleted home a header. Ryan Hardie scored two more early in the second half to complete his hat-trick and put Rovers 4-1 up. Saints battled back with a goal from David Clarkson and a second goal of the day for Watson but time ran out on them as they looked for the equaliser.
Raith hold the box seat as they sit in what appears to be the last available promotion playoff spot in 4th place, 7 points ahead of 5th place Morton. Queen of the South sit 6th a further point behind and Saints are behind them by another 3 points. The Kirkcaldy side have hit form just at the right time having won 5 out of their last 7 league outings, the other two matches being a loss to Rangers and a draw with Alloa. The most recent win coming on Saturday as they toppled Hibernian 2-1 with goals from Lewis Toshney and top scorer Mark Stewart who has netted 11 over the league campaign.
St Mirren have found their feet again with back to back wins (against Queen of the South and Livingston) since the loss in Kirkcaldy with top scorer Stephen Mallan finding the back of the net in both matches with penalty-kicks. In recent games Saints have also hit the goal trail with 8 over the last 3 games having only scored 2 in the previous 5.
A loss for Saints tonight will see their very slim chances of being in the promotion playoffs all but over while the win for Rovers will see them cement their place further. So a lot at stake for both sides in what should be an interesting match up this evening.