Queen’s Park came from behind to win for a second week running as Raith Rovers were seen off 5-2 at Stark’s Park to record their first win at the Fife ground since March 2008.
Hampden Youth Graduate Aidan Connolly opened and closed the scoring for the hosts however doubles from Simon Murray and Dom Thomas as well as a super strike from Jack Thomson took the points west.
Head Coach Owen Coyle selected the same side that defeated Inverness Caledonian Thistle 2-1 last weekend with Stephen Eze on the substitute’s bench after the concussion he suffered at Cove Rangers just over a fortnight ago and Alex Bannon also listed as a replacement after missing out last weekend.
Thomson, who was so impressive last Saturday evening, showed flashes of skill in the first minute of this one as he worked the ball from the right wing to the left where Tommy Robson advanced. The full back sent the ball across the pitch to Thomas however the Raith defence crowded out the winger before he could advance deep into their territory.
Raith’s Kieran Ngwenya was released on the left a minute later however Charlie Fox stretched to cut out his low cross.
The Kirkcaldy men threatened again with six minutes gone when Connolly sent Ethan Ross clear and his pass found Lewis Vaughan who whipped a shot into the side-netting.
Two minutes later the hosts’ Scott Brown got the better of Malachi Boateng 30 yards from goal and tried his luck with a firm shot that Calum Ferrie gratefully clutched at the first attempt.
On 13 minutes Pat Jarrett was tripped 30 yards from the home goal for a free-kick that Thomas curled in but there were no takers with Raith racing to the other end and threatening briefly when Vaughan nipped past Lee Kilday.
Three minutes later Simon Murray reached a long Kilday pass and skipped into the box before sliding the ball home only for a flag from the referee’s assistant to signal that the ball had gone out of play.
Within 60 seconds Raith had taken the lead in fine style when Connolly cut in from the right and sent a curling effort from 25 yards high into the far corner despite the best efforts of a leaping Ferrie.
Jake Davidson did well midway through the half to head away a corner under pressure with referee Robertson awarding a foul to the Queen’s player for the close attention of Raith’s Scott Brown.
Ferrie was called into action again on 32 minutes when a shot from Sam Stanton was deflected into Ross’ path with the visiting number one reaching high to push Ross’ shot over for a corner.
Queen’s best passing move of the first half ended on 35 minutes when Josh McPake was fouled 25 yards out and a fine equaliser came from the resultant free-kick.
Murray and Thomas stood over the ball and it was skipper MURRAY who stepped up and curled a shot over the defensive wall and out of the reach of the despairing Jamie MacDonald to tie the score at 1-1.
The score-line could have been turned on its head totally on 39 minutes when a lay-off on the half-way line from Murray teed Thomas up to dart deep into the Raith half where he looked up and picked out the in-rushing McPake however the front-man could not keep his shot down and MacDonald was not troubled in the home goal.
It was however 2-1 to the visitors two minutes from the break when Murray charged across the pitch from left to right and despite looking to be fouled twice, he was able to slip a pass to THOMAS.
The wide-man took a touch and fired for goal from 18 yards and his shot took a heavy deflection off Liam Dick and went in at one corner as MacDonald shuffled to the other.
Raith looked to level quickly and Kilday timed a tackle to perfection on Vaughan just as the Fifer was away to shoot from 10 yards.
The hosts forced a corner within 90 seconds of the restart with Ferrie moving sharply to take the ball off Dick’s toes at the back post. The shot-stopper quickly released the ball and it was worked out to wide left where McPake sent it flashing across the home goal and MURRAY tapped in from a yard out.
On 52 minutes Raith came within inches of pulling a goal back as Ngwenya ignored visiting appeals that the ball had ran out of play to cut a pass in from the left to Vaughan who sent a curling effort flashing just past Ferrie’s far post.
Ferrie was called upon with an hour played to make another save as he leapt to his left to hold an 18-yard effort from recently introduced substitute Kyle Connell.
Queen’s were not looking to sit on their lead and Thomas sent over a wicked cross on 62 minutes that went unpunished as it zipped goalward.
Another ex-Queen’s Park player Jamie Gullan, who was brought on early into the second half, looked set to net when the industrious Vaughan found him racing in on the left-hand side of the box but thankfully Gullan’s shot travelled just wide at the other side of Ferrie’s goal.
With 20 minutes left Murray set off on a determined run to grab his hat-trick and after advancing some 30 yards he looked to slip and that sent his shot harmlessly past.
Murray was spot-on two minutes later as he held the ball up 25 yards from the Raith goal before slipping a pass side-ways to THOMSON who sent a thumping shot past MacDonald to make the score 4-1.
A third former Spider looked to get one back for his side with 14 minutes left as Ross Millen curled in an effort from 20 yards with Ferrie watching it closely as it slipped past.
It was ‘fantastic five’ for Queen’s on 77 minutes when THOMAS netted in similar fashion to his first as he dashed in from the right flank and fired towards MacDonald’s goal with the goalkeeper left helpless again by a deflection.
Connolly grabbed his second goal of afternoon with 8 minutes left when a Vaughan pass rolled into his path and the wide-man skipped past Ferrie and took his time before slotting high past Kilday who had raced back to the goal-line.
The drama was not over as Connolly was denied a hat-trick when Robson kicked clear from the goal-line with two further Raith attempts hacked away from close range with Ferrie beaten.
In the final minute Robson performed more heroics as he headed a Vaughan shot over to deny the hosts a third of the afternoon.
Queen’s Park: Calum Ferrie, Jake Davidson, Charlie Fox, Lee Kilday, Tommy Robson, Jack Thomson, Malachi Boateng (Alex Bannon 89’), Dom Thomas, Pat Jarrett (Louis Longridge 80’), Josh McPake (Grant Savoury 62’), Simon Murray (Johnny Kenny 80’). Subs not used: Jason Naismith, Jacques Heraghty (G/k), Scott Williamson, David Boateng, Stephen Eze.
Raith Rovers: Jamie MacDonald, Liam Dick, Ross Millen, Brad Spencer (Kyle Connell 58’), Aidan Connolly, Lewis Vaughan, Connor O’Riordan, Kieran Ngwenya, Sam Stanton, Scott Brown, Ethan Ross (Jamie Gullan 53’). Subs not used: Andrew McNeil, Ryan Nolan, Connor McBride, Quinn Coulson, Adam Masson, John Frederiksen.
Referee: Don Robertson