Ross County 1 - 1 Raith Rovers: Rugged Rovers foil County
AS George Galloway was being hoisted high on supporters’ shoulders in Bradford West on Thursday, it is doubtful whether the maverick MP would have been bothered by any embittered mumblings about campaign style from Labour rivals
In much the same way, should Ross County clinch a historic success at Livingston next weekend, they will be no less euphoric for the sniping they have faced from some opposing managers.
Still, the utterings of the likes of Steven Pressley, Jackie McNamara and Billy Reid must rankle a little given the excellence of their season. Yesterday, the unbeaten run reached 28 games despite a bizarre finale denying the hosts full points.
A disputed penalty four minutes into stoppage time stunned County after a backs-to-the-wall scrap from Raith Rovers ended somehow in a salvaged point.
County looked certain to be guaranteed the chance to clinch the title next weekend at Almondvale after Paul Lawson broke the deadlock with six minutes remaining.
But a Stuart Kettlewell trip in the box – which County boss Derek Adams insisted was a clean challenge on Jason Thomson – gave Pat Clarke the unlikely leveller.
While Raith manager John McGlynn (pictured) argued his team deserved a draw for their grit and character, he turned his guns on critics of County’s style of play.
“There’s a cliché that the league table never lies, although I suppose that doesn’t really tell you the style of play,” McGlynn said. “We can all strive to be like Barcelona, but there is only one Barcelona. Managing football teams is not as easy as is made out and we should be managing and thinking about our own teams.
“I don’t think Ross County are doing an awful lot wrong. The last time up here we were beaten 4-2 and that was the best any team has played against us all season. We should be left without other people sniping through whatever reason. We want to see a beautiful game but we’re kidding ourselves on if we think anything has changed in the last 12 months. I would back Derek [Adams] and Ross County on this.
“The football today was decent football. It was First Division football.”
County officially extinguished Falkirk’s lingering mathematical chances and can still clinch their SPL place with victory at Livingston if the Bairns beat or draw with Dundee next Saturday.
Both sides had to adjust to the loss of top scorers, with Raith’s John Baird and County’s Colin McMenamin serving suspensions.
County were quickly on the front foot and Sam Morrow, making only his fifth start of the season, set up Richard Brittain for an early strike wide. As well as the meatier qualities, there was a willingness from both sides to get the ball down and play.
Rocco Quinn was making a decent impact for County and, from Morrow’s knockdown after 31 minutes, stung the gloves of David McGurn from 25 yards.
Michael Fraser, the County goalkeeper, produced a tremendous full-stretch save to turn away a Damian Casalinuovo header after 53 minutes but mostly the pressure came from County. Raith set up camp deep in their own half as the home side laid siege.
With six minutes left, the sustained pressure finally paid off for County. As the ball broke to Brittain at the edge of area the skipper laid it to Paul Lawson who placed a low curling shot beyond McGurn with his weaker left foot.
With four minutes of added time on the clock, the penalty provided an unexpected finish but County’s champagne is already on ice.
Incensed County manager Adams watched footage of the penalty incident before declaring it a blunder by the referee.
“It is not a penalty kick. Kettlewell has played the ball out of the park,” Adams said. “I’ve watched it, I’ve seen the ball getting played, it is not a penalty. I can’t speak to the referee – they won’t speak to us. You can’t give your opinion. We have been robbed of the three points.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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