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Report: St Mirren 1-2 Raith Rovers


Report: St Mirren 1-2 Raith Rovers
By Alan Gallacher at St Mirren Park
TWO first half goals were enough for Raith to ensure Saints good home record was punctured and any lingering promotion hopes Saints may still have clung to were blown apart and buried. There was nothing much between the teams, but the ease with which Saints conceded both goals was enough to settle the game, and no doubt bemuse and frustrate Alex Rae.
Nobody will officially say so, but Saints can start rebuilding for a genuine Championship charge next season as this is all from now to the end of the season is about. Little bits of quality and composure lacking in key areas at key times – nothing catastrophic, but being out of the running now offers Rae and David Farrell time and games to assess and plan ahead.
Saints could have been ahead inside three-minutes had it not been for a well-timed last ditch challenge from Rovers defender, Frank McKeown. The former Stranraer left-back managed to beat Stephen Mallan to a loose ball yards from an unguarded goal following a howler from keeper Kevin Cuthbert.
Against a Rovers team fresh from a good weekend win over Hibs it was Saints who played the better football in the opening sparring, and who also looked like carrying the most potency. Too often the final ball or cross let down the good approach play that had gone before allowing an experienced visiting defence to stand tall and be relatively unscathed.
Rovers had showed next to nothing as an attacking force, yet midway through the half they had the lead. One simple low pass through the heart of the Saints defence laid the home side bare, and allowed Aidan Connolly to sprint through and easily lift his shot over the advancing Jamie Langfield.
You could almost visibly see the stuffing being knocked out of the team with the initial pep and verve replaced by tentativeness and the occasional wild lash up the park. From being the pressing force Saints retreated and by half time Rovers were enjoying over 60% of the possession.
Soon or later Rovers – with so much of the ball – were going to get another chance and ten-minutes shy of the interval they were two up. Louis Longridge made a mess of his shot, Saints failed to deal with the fall-out, Jack Baird was short with a headed backpass and Ross Callachan skipped through to double the advantage.
Two-nil probably flattered Rovers a touch, so it was fitting and probably just that Saints reduced the deficit on the cusp of half-time. Rovers failed to clear their lines, the ball broke to Alex Cooper who worked the ball to his weaker right foot before ripping a low shot past Cuthbert to send the teams in at the break with a better complexion on proceedings.
Half-Time: St Mirren 1-2 Raith Rovers
The second half wasn’t quite as full of incident with Rovers happy to sit in on the hope of hitting on the break and Saints plugging away to little or no effect.
One of the talking points of the match was Saints’ manager Alex Rae being banished to the stand by referee Barry Cook after the Saints gaffer had voiced his grievances and frustrations to the whistler.
Saints continued to press in the later stages with the introduction of Steven Thompson making a difference with the ability to now go long and play off the experienced forward. Lawrence Shankland benefited from one superb knockdown, but he dragged his shot wide when he should have levelled matters.
With this chance went Saints last real chance of a salvo job. Disappointing to lose, disappointing to have gifted Raith two goals, but there was nothing in the game.
Full-Time: St Mirren 1-2 Raith Rovers
St Mirren: Langfield, Webster, Gow (McAllister 46), Mallan, Baird (Stewart 46), Agnew, Watson, Gallagher (Thompson 76), Shankland, Irvine, Cooper.
Subs Not Used: Goodwin, Howieson, Carswell, Wilks (GK).
Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Thomson, Callachan, Toshney (Matthews 46), Benedictus, Panayiotou (Thomas 77), Connolly (Anderson 84), Longridge, McKeown, Craigen, Barr.
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Court, Law (GK).
Referee: Barry Cook.
Assistant Referee: Andrew McWilliam.
Assistant Referee: David Doig.
Attendance: 2,381 (152 Raith Rovers fans)
Star Saint: Not a long cast of excellent performers, but having one of his better games having been deployed in his better position was Scott Agnew.  Worked hard and tried to make things happen when he got on the ball.
Match report pictures by Allan Picken – © Allan Picken Photography.
Match Gallery Pictures © John Millar.

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