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4 Raith Rovers talking points as Championship title race with Dundee United continues to twist and turn after Morton stalemate

The Stark's Park side were held to a goalless draw at home by on-form Morton.

Euan Murray slides into to another challenge as Morton substitute Michael Garrity hurdles over the Raith Rovers defender.
Raith Rovers had to dig deep to see out a goalless draw with Morton. Image: Raymond Davies / Shutterstock.

Raith Rovers were held at home by Morton on Tuesday night in a stalemate that was fairly predictable from early on in a battling 90 minutes.

Goalmouth chances were at a premium and there was little to excite the paying customers on a night of infrequent flowing football.

Yet, thanks to Dundee United’s defeat, the Stark’s Park side still hauled themselves level on points at the top of the Championship.

Courier Sport takes a look at the significance of another rollercoaster night in the title race.

Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray barks instructions during the goalless draw with Morton as he prepares to introduce Ross Matthews and Kyle Turner.
Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray barks instructions during the goalless draw with Morton. Image: Raymond Davies / Shutterstock.

Missed opportunity?

Tbe ‘what ifs’ will only be relevant should a title challenge falter come the finishing line.

However, it is natural every time points are dropped to consider whether they may prove crucial.

There have been a few occasions already when Rovers have failed to take all three points but have been relieved to find out Dundee United have also slipped up.

With a glass half full, the Tangerines’ defeat to Airdrie on Tuesday night can be seen as a bonus when Raith were held at home by on-form Morton.

For those of a glass half empty persuasion, it can be seen as a missed opportunity.

Raith Rovers midfielder Sam Stanton chases Morton opponent Robbie Crawford.
Raith Rovers found Morton tough opponents in a frustrating stalemate. Image: Raymond Davies / Shutterstock.

If only the Stark’s Park men had eked out a victory then they could have taken full advantage of their Tannadice foes’ loss.

But manager Ian Murray was satisfied enough to have taken a point on a difficult night against tough opponents.

Approaching the final quarter of the campaign, it is natural for one team to be measured against their title rivals every step of the way.

But, with 33 points still up for grabs, it is important the Kirkcaldy outfit do not get too worried by the twists and turns that will undoubtedly take place between now and May 3.

Others proving they can have a big say

Morton’s draw against Raith stretched their unbeaten run to a hugely impressive 16 games.

They again proved difficult opponents on Tuesday night, both in their physical approach without the ball and in their ability to play when they had it.

The fact Murray was content with a draw at the full-time whistle told its own story.

Meanwhile, up at Tannadice, Airdrie were proving their qualities with a shock 2-0 victory over United.

And, elsewhere, Partick Thistle – whose run of form had some at Raith looking over their shoulders at one point – were losing for the second game in a row.

Morton extended their unbeaten run to 16 games with the goalless draw against Raith Rovers. Image: Raymond Davies / Shutterstock.

With just five points separating the teams in fifth place to ninth, there is also a furious battle going on to avoid relegation to League One – whilst some of those teams still harbour promotion play-off hopes.

It all adds up to what is rightly viewed as probably the most competitive league in the SPFL.

And, as the final denouement starts to loom on the horizon with every team still fighting for something, it means every opponent is a dangerous one.

Fixtures that at one point seemed reasonably safe to predict are no longer so.

Both Raith and United are certain to drop more points between now and the end – and the rest of the league will have a big say in the destination of the title.


When Raith went five points clear of United at the summit with December’s win at Tannadice, they were right where they wanted to be.

A few weeks later they needed another win over the Tangerines to avoid going seven points behind.

Whether complacency had crept in or whether it was the stresses of being the hunted rather than the hunter is not clear.

But pressure will undoubtedly play its part in the coming weeks.

Who will cope best?

When the chips have been down in the head-to-head battles between Raith and United, it is Rovers who have come out on top.

Raith Rovers skipper Scott Brown wipes out Morton striker Jai Quitongo with a sliding challenge.
Raith Rovers had to dig deep to take a point from their bruising clash with Morton. Image: Raymond Davies / Shutterstock.

They do not have the same burden of expectation their title rivals have.

As the team relegated from the Premiership last term and with the biggest budget in the division, the Tannadice men have been favourites from the first kick-off.

Do Rovers have less pressure as a team who have surprisingly given themselves a chance of a dream promotion?

Their squad is littered with players who have won titles before and who have proven they can handle a run-in.

If Raith can beat Arbroath on Friday night it will pass the question back to United the following day for a tricky trip to face Partick Thistle at Firhill.

The ugly side of the beautiful game

Murray was happy to see Rovers dig in against Morton and meet fire with fire.

The Greenock side definitely won the battle early on, even if their robust methods fell foul of the home fans and, at times, referee Steven Kirkland.

However, Raith proved to be no shrinking violets either and stood up to their visitors.

Central to that effort were central defenders Keith Watson and Euan Murray, as well as skipper Scott Brown as the holding midfielder.

They restricted Morton to few clearcut chances on a night of little in the way of attractive football.

It added up to a first clean sheet in 11 games and a first at home in four months.

Rovers had been right to be concerned by their defensive record of late.

Raith Rovers defender Keith Watson rises highest in a crowded box to head clear.
Keith Watson (centre) rises highest to head clear for Raith Rovers from a crowded box. Image: Raymond Davies / Shutterstock.

At one point, they had leaked 14 goals in just five home games and they conceded 18 in ten games between their shut-out against Dundee United in mid-December and Tuesday night.

That was not the kind of rearguard record on which titles are built – and they knew it.

The fortnight off the Kirkcaldy outfit had ahead of the recent 2-1 victory over United was well spent honing a more resolute approach.

And it appears to have worked. From conceding an average of almost two goals a game (1.8), it is now less than one (0.66) for the three matches since that reset.

There was nothing pretty about the way Watson, Murray et al headed and cleared everything that came into their box against Morton.

But who will care if, ultimately, it gets the job done?