Queen’s Park exited the SPFL Trust Trophy at the quarter-final stage after going down 1-0 to Raith Rovers at Ochilview to end a terrific run of results from the Spiders.
The Queen’s team that took to the field had a youthful and unfamiliar look to it with Head Coach Owen Coyle making nine changes to the starting line-up that defeated Cove Rangers 6-0 at the weekend.
Goalkeeper Calum Ferrie and midfield maestro Malachi Boateng kept a starting jersey however Charlie Fox, Josh McPake, Dom Thomas, Jake Davidson, Grant Savoury and Simon Murray moved to the bench with Lee Kilday, Tommy Robson and Jack Thomson dropping out of things completely.
Cameron Bruce and Aaron Healy were handed starting bows against a Kirkcaldy side that included former Spiders, Jamie Gullan and Connor McBride, from the kick-off with the in-form Hampden Youth Product Aidan Connolly listed as one of their replacements.
The play moved swiftly from one end to the other in the opening minute with Boateng having a shot charged down before Raith raced to the other end where McBride threatened on the left before being crowded out.
Healy picked up a pass from Pat Jarrett on five minutes and sent a teasing cross that Liam Dick was pleased to turn past for a corner that Louis Longridge crossed in for Stephen Eze however his header flashed wide.
Seven minutes later Ferrie had to dash just outside of his area to kick clear after visiting defender Tom Lang showed some nice dribbling skills in his own half before sending the ball forward as he looked to start an attack.
On 13 minutes Raith’s towering John Frederiksen got above the six-foot six-inch frame of Eze to reach a whipped in right wing cross with Ferrie carefully watching the striker’s header clear his goal.
Healy’s trickery earned another corner on 17 minutes with Dick heading the dead ball wide for another flag kick that Jason Naismith looked to head goalward before being blocked.
Eze went down injured with a head-knock midway through the first half and when play resumed with a bounced ball, the visiting Dylan Easton, charged forward before sending a 20-yard effort wide of the home goal.
On 32 minutes Easton tried his luck from distance again with this shot rising above the bar before Queen’s carved out an attack a minute later as Eze charged forward with the danger ending when Scott Williamson failed to reach the defender’s through ball.
Eze slid in divert a dangerous Kieran Mitchell cross out for a corner five minutes from the break after Easton and McBride had combined to send the wide-man free on the right.
The first half ended goalless however the second almost got off to an explosive start with Ferrie having to move sharply to his left to keep out Scott Brown’s 22-yard shot with just 30 seconds played.
Biggar had the hosts’ first attempt after the restart when a cross was knocked into his path 25 yards out with Raith goalkeeper Andrew McNeil able to watch the midfielder’s drive flash well wide.
McBride forced a corner on 49 minutes that Gullan sent low into the Queen’s six-yard box with Jarrett stepping in to clear.
Three minutes later Jarrett wriggled clear of Brown in midfield before sending a pass to the right where Bannon galloped clear before sending over a high cross that looked to deceive McNeil before the shot-stopper recovered his composure and flicked the ball behind.
Longridge’s resultant corner was met by Eze with McNeil touching the defender’s header over and as Queen’s continued to press Longridge teed up Williamson who was off-target with his shot.
Just before the hour mark Raith came close with a fierce drive from McBride from 15 yards that just whistled clear of Ferrie’s bar.
On 63 minutes the home side appealed loudly for a penalty after a Bruce cross from the by-line looked to come off a hand however referee Chris Graham was not interested.
Ferrie made a fine punch away from his line on 67 minutes after the wind had directed a headed clearance from Eze towards his own goal with referee Graham awarding a foul to Ferrie despite his successful intervention.
Davidson almost marked his introduction with a goal on 71 minutes when he let fly from long-distance with a deflection taking the ball in the opposite direction to McNeil’s dive but the ball rolled wide.
Six minutes later a run and cross from Healy threatened danger with the ball eventually hacked clear after McNeil had failed to gather.
With ten minutes remaining Raith scored when an Eze pass was blocked 25 yards out and the ball ricocheted into the path of Frederiksen who steadied himself before slipping a shot low into the net.
It took a good stop from Ferrie a minute later to prevent the visitors going two ahead with the shot-stopper denying Connolly from close range.
Coach Coyle made a triple substitution in a bid to get level with Thomas, Savoury and McPake all introduced with the three replacements all standing over a free-kick with three minutes to go some 30 yards from the Raith goal.
Thomas took it and chipped into the box with appeals for a penalty again ignored with McPake the next to try a rescue act with a run and shot from the left that was helped wide by a visiting defender.
McNeil pounced on a late Williamson shot before Frederiksen almost added a sensational second goal with a chip from 45 yards that Ferrie had to leap high to touch over.
Queen’s Park: Calum Ferrie, Alex Bannon, Jason Naismith, Stephen Eze, Cameron Bruce, Malachi Boateng (Jake Davidson 59), Calum Biggar (Dom Thomas 85), Louis Longridge (Josh McPake 85), Pat Jarrett, Aaron Healy (Grant Savoury 85), Scott Williamson. Subs not used: Charlie Fox, Jacques Heraghty (G/k), Simon Murray, Lennon Connolly, Callan McKenna (G/k).
Raith Rovers: Andrew McNeil, Liam Dick, Ryan Nolan, Jamie Gullan (Aidan Connolly 79), Connor McBride, Tom Lang, Scott Brown, Dylan Easton, Kieran Mitchell (Lewis Vaughan 90+1), Adam Masson, John Frederiksen. Subs not used: Robbie Thomson (G/k).
Referee – Chris Graham