And it goes on...
Plenty of endeavour in the first half at Starks Park but little quality in the final third resulted in a game void of goalmouth action over the first forty-five minutes for both sides. Biggest talking point was the sending off just before the break of Ross Mathews for what looked like a rash studs up challenge. Contentious maybe, but straight red dished out. After the break more space saw more chances created but it was Raith that broke forward and scored through Aidan Connolly. Inverness struggled to get back on level terms but eventually did ten minutes from the end when Sean Welsh drilled home from the edge of the box and that ended the scoring. Raith's quest for a win over Inverness goes into a 22nd year. Killie were the only winners in the Championship and closed the gap to three points but Inverness remain top.
Rovers were looking for their first win over Inverness in 21 years whilst Inverness were looking to start the seond phase of fixtures on a high and maintain their five point lead at the top of the table. However, Rovers are the form team in the league at the moment and this could have been our most difficult game of the season so far.
Wallace Duffy was in at right back and Michael Gardyne was fit enough to continue up front. Billy Mckay kept Manny Duku on the bench.
A first half without opportunities changed dramatically when Mathews was red carded just before the interval, but it was tepid and goalless at the break.
Half Time: 0-0
Just after the interval Mark Ridgers dived low to his right to push an effort by Tumilty round the post for a corner. It may have been going just wide but he took no chances and dealt well with the shot, and at the other end Shane Sutherland cut inside on the right and went equally close with a low curling left footer that was just wide of the far post with Macdonald at full stretch.
Rovers opened the scoring after good work down the left before Aidan Connolly smashed the ball from Dario Zanatta high into the net from 12 yards. Sloppy marking from the defence but Connolly didn't care as he fired the ball into the top corner for a super finish.
Jamie Macdonald pulled off a flying save to deny Billy Mckay as Inverness responded against the ten men and a Duku free kick forced the keeper to push the ball over the bar as the Inverness pressure mounted.
Inverness equalised when Michael Gardyne burst into the box on the left side and cut the ball back to the edge of the area where Sean Welsh drilled a low shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Dario Zanatta passed on a great opportunity to win all three points but curled his shot high over the bar and into the stand.
Macdonald scooped up a late header as we looked to nab a late winner but it was too easy for the keeper.
Full Time: 1-1
The game petered out thereafter and the points were shared.
Another disappointing show against ten men for half the game, but the point was deserved and very welcome.
Michael Gardyne was again prominent and created most of our openings with a nod to Sean Welsh for steadying himself before drilling home the equaliser.
A useful point at the end of the day with Kilmarnock the only side to earn three points, so not too much damage done by dropping two points, but nonetheless disappointing considering the player advantage after the break plus two enforced changes due to injury.
Highlights from Raith Rovers TV
From BBC Sport
Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn: "Ross Matthews has made an aggressive attempt to get to the ball in a game where there were a few challenges going around. "The referee was very quick to make that decision. I think it was a fair attempt and he got the ball, it was the follow through he caught the player."
Inverness CT manager Billy Dodds: "We should do better when they go down to 10 but fair play to Raith, they kept at it. When we got the equaliser I fancied us to win but we ran out of time. "Before the game I'd probably have taken a point but once they went down to 10 I expected three."
From CTO Robert:
I’d have taken 1-1 before kick off and then when Raith took the lead. Credit the players for getting back into it and a draw was a fair result.
It was quite a scrappy game, particularly the first half. Broadfoot was booked in only 50 seconds and the only chance I recall was a Welsh free kick that nearly went over the stand. Neither ‘keeper was tested. The pitch seemed slippery and was not helping with players losing their footing a few times, notably Mckay and MacGregor. So much for plastic surfaces!
The sending off worried me as I thought it would galvanise Raith and, after we started the second half brightly, they got their goal from a cross from Zanatta. It was the only time he got the better of Duffy all game and the scorer got between our defenders to give Ridgers no chance.
After that, I thought we would struggle to break them down, but we had our best spell and got a deserved equaliser when the ball fell to Welsh about 20 yards out and he finished well.