It was frustration in Fife for ten-man Queen’s Park as they went down 2-0 to Raith Rovers with Tom Lang and Lewis Vaughan finding the net for the Stark’s Park hosts.
Queen’s Head Coach Owen Coyle made changes in defence, midfield and attack with Lee Kilday starting in the rear-guard, Jack Thomson available again for box-to-box action and Josh McPake added to the up-front options.
Stephen Eze, Louis Longridge and Euan Henderson made way with the trio listed amongst the substitutes against a host side that took the field with former Spiders Ross Millen and Aidan Connolly starting with another former Black and White Hoops player in Connor McBride on the bench.
Connor Shields kicked off however it was Raith that had the first opening as a free-kick was launched into the visitors’ box with Charlie Fox stepping in to nod away.
On three minutes a sliding tackle from Kilday halted a promising home attack after a Sam Stanton pass had found its way through midfield and with the Rovers still pressing Connolly sent a shot rising over Calum Ferrie’s bar.
Two minutes later Kilday slid in again to take the ball off Vaughan’s and Ferrie’s toes with McPake having the Spiders first attempt at goal shortly afterwards with his drive blocked at the edge of the box.
Ferrie showed his commitment on 15 minutes as he dashed from his goal and ran along the bye line and made a leaping stop just to prevent a Marcel Oakley header going out for a corner.
Queen’s could have taken the lead midway through the first half when Shields surged down the right and picked out Grant Savoury 10 yards out. Savoury fired for goal however Lang made a heroic block with the visiting attacker off target as he tried to turn the loose ball in with an overhead kick.
On 27 minutes it was Fox’s turn to make a heroic block as he prevented Scott McGill’s shot from a Stanton cut back going into the visitors’ goal at the expense of a corner.
Raith won a free-kick at the edge of the box from the resultant dead-ball and after Connolly’s drive had come off the wall Raith came close again with a Vaughan shot that was deflected over by Kilday.
There was to be no reprieve as the hosts took the lead on 29 minutes when Lang won the race for a Connolly corner and dived to head past Ferrie.
On 38 minutes Queen’s were given a route to pulling level when Thomson was upended by a high boot from Liam Dick in the box.
Dom Thomas took the spot-kick and placed it to Jamie MacDonald’s left with the Kirkcaldy shot-stopper pushing the penalty away and then blocking the follow-up from Thomas with McPake also unable to turn the loose ball home.
The frustrations of the first half were best summed up in injury time when Savoury tried to win a corner, however he was unable to force the ball off Millen who stepped in and put the ball behind only for referee Irvine to award a bye-kick.
Aaron Healy was called in during half-time and when the teams emerged for the restart the former Arthurlie man was on in place of McPake.
Ferrie was called into action early into the restart when Dylan Easton tried an angular effort with the shot-stopper perfectly placed to save.
A promising period from Coyle’s side on 51 minutes came to an end on 51 minutes through a loose pass and that allowed Raith to attack in numbers and Ferrie had to stretch to touch away Vaughan’s low shot.
A superb challenge by Boateng just before the hour mark robbed Connolly of the ball six yards from Ferrie’s goal after a deep Millen cross from the right had created danger.
Vaughan fired over shortly afterwards and the hosts bagged their second goal on 62 minutes when they were allowed to progress on their right and when Vaughan caught a glimpse of the far corner of Ferrie’s net he sent a shot flashing past the shot-stopper.
As the hosts looked to put the game to bed Savoury did well to put in a challenge on Stanton just as he was away to fire at the Queen’s goal.
Lang was booked on 72 minutes for sliding challenge on Shields who had worked his way into a good position with MacDonald stretching high to grab Thomson’s in-swinging free-kick.
With confidence flowing through the home side Easton tried to chip Ferrie from some 45 yards out with the Queen’s number one taking a few steps back to ensure that he was able to save.
There was further frustration for the away side on 79 minutes as Healy was booked for alleged simulation in the Raith box and when play reached the other end Stanton went down in an off the ball incident with Fox with the defender shown a straight red card.
Queen’s looked for route back into things and Boateng was first to reach a corner with the midfielder sending his header wide of goal with Eze doing likewise with an injury time effort.
Queen’s Park: Calum Ferrie, Marcel Oakley, Charlie Fox, Lee Kilday, Thomas Robson, Jack Thomson (Patrick Jarrett 77’), Malachi Boateng, Dom Thomas (Euan Henderson 63’), Grant Savoury (Stephen Eze 81), Josh McPake (Aaron Healy 46’), Connor Shields.
Subs not used: Jacques Heraghty (G/k), Louis Longridge, Jake Davidson, Scott Williamson, Alex Bannon.
Raith Rovers: Jamie MacDonald, Liam Dick, Ross Millen, Ryan Nolan, Aidan Connolly, Lewis Vaughan (William Akio 82), Tom Lang, Sam Stanton (Connor McBride 87), Scott Brown, Dylan Easton (Ethan Ross 87), Scott McGill (Brad Spencer 65)
Subs not used: Robbie Thomson (G/k), Kieran Ngwenya, Greig Young, Adam Masson, Esmael Goncalves
Referee: Grant Irvine