Morton’s promotion hopes suffered a second major blow in the space of just four days as they slipped to a confidence-denting defeat at Stark’s Park.
Scorers: Raith Rovers - Graham 12; Tidser og 38; Morton - Wilkie 72
The Cappielow outfit lost their top spot in the table without playing in midweek when Partick, who now enjoy a four-point lead and retain a game in hand over their title rivals, leapfrogged them with a victory over Cowdenbeath.
And the Kingdom of Fife proved to be potentially pivotal again in Morton’s faltering bid to be crowned First Division champions as they were bullied out of the points in Kirkcaldy.
Brian Graham, pictured below, continued his impressively prolific campaign with his 24th goal of the season after just 12 minutes, with Rovers doubling their advantage eight minutes from the interval courtesy of an own goal from Morton’s Michael Tidser and substitute Kyle Wilkie’s 72nd-minute strike came too late to save the visitors.
“I thought they were absolutely murder,” was manager Allan Moore’s candid assessment. “In the first half they were like 11 guys who had never played together and I gave them both barrels at half-time. It baffles me how a team sitting second in the league can turn in a performance like that.
“It is an uphill struggle but we can’t just go and chuck it, we’ve got to make sure that in the next six games we put a major effort in and see where it takes us.”
Raith took the lead when the tenacious Graham flung himself into the six-yard box to meet Allan Walker’s venomous corner and, just as Morton looked like finding a way back, they suffered a self-inflicted wound in the 38th minute. Right-back Jason Thomson surged single-mindedly down the flank and his attempt to pick out Graham was looped into his own net from 12 yards by Tidser.
Morton’s response came too late when replacement Wilkie superbly curled a shot round McGurn’s despairing left hand with 18 minutes remaining.
“It was a very important win,” admitted Rovers player-boss Grant Murray, whose side are now eight points out of the relegation zone. “We don’t want to get dragged down near the bottom.”