Defender Kyle Benedictus scored the winner for Raith Rovers on Saturday, and insisted that the team’s home form can be the key to their promotion play-off hopes.
The 1-0 victory over Queen of the South maintained Raith’s 100% record at Stark’s Park so far this season, with nine points collected from the opening three home fixtures.
Benedictus was a key figure at both ends of the park, putting in a solid defensive display while helping himself to his third goal of the season as Rovers bounced back from successive away defeats to Hibs and Rangers.
“I set a target to get five, but the manager has said I need to try and get more now,” the centre-half said.
“That’s me top scorer now, so the strikers will need to get their act together!
“The most important thing was to take the three points and keep our home form going.
“Queens are a good side and will be in amongst the top four, but these are the games we need to be winning if we want to push up the table as far as possible.
“You try to pick up as many away points as you can, but if you can keep your home form going you’ve got a chance of going for the top four.
“That’s three wins and three clean sheets, so long may it continue.”
Defences were on top in a goalless first half that produced little excitement for the 1,527 crowd.
Queens were first to threaten, in the 12th minute, as Kevin Cuthbert dived to his left to push away Ryan Conroy’s 25-yard free-kick.
Raith’s first chance arrived four minutes later as Ryan McCord’s corner fell to Lewis Toshney in the box, but the defender skied his volley over the bar.
Queens came close on 19 minutes when Gary Oliver sent a free header wide from six yards.
Grant Anderson was inches away, with a looping header at the other end.
Queens took control after the break and made strong claims for a penalty when the ball appeared to strike Toshney’s hand, but referee Kevin Clancy sided with the defender.
Cuthbert made a wonder save from an Andy Dowie header in the 70th minute.
After soaking up the pressure, Raith hit the visitors with a sucker punch in the 78th minute.
James Craigen’s corner kick arrived back at the midfielder’s feet, and his second delivery was powered home from six yards by Benedictus.
Jon Daly had a glorious chance to grab his first Raith goal in the 83rd minute but failed to hit the target with a free header from Craigen’s corner.
The miss meant Raith endured a tense final five minutes as Queens piled on the pressure, but the home defence held firm.
Raith boss Ray McKinnon said: “It was a good win, and it was nice to get last week’s defeat out of the way.
“I thought we were excellent in the first half, got into some great areas, and controlled the game.
“The second half was a much more difficult game. I thought Queens were excellent, but we stuck at it and got the victory.”