This was an opportunity for these teams to put down an early marker in the challenge for the top-four finish both crave.
Falkirk were the ones left happiest, thanks to Mark Kerr’s late winner, but their joy will have been confined to the result on a day when neither side will have been entirely content with their performance.
An untidy match was always going to require something special to decide it and Kerr provided the coup de grace with just ten minutes remaining. After plenty perspiration but little inspiration, the experienced midfielder drilled a low drive beyond Kevin Cuthbert’s despairing dive from 25 yards out.
“I’m pleased with the three points,” said Falkirk manager Peter Houston, who revealed striker Botti Biabi is on the verge of a move to Swansea City after travelling to Wales for a medical. “I thought we just shaded it in a tight and tough game.”
The decisive goal came just nine minutes after Raith defender Kyle Benedictus – who had only just returned from suspension – was sent off after earning a second yellow card.
Rovers manager Ray McKinnon was left ruing that pivotal moment and his players’ profligacy, especially in passing up two gilt-edged injury-time chances to snatch a point when Iain Davidson and Mitch Megginson whistled shots inches past.
“The sending off was key,” said McKinnon. “But we need to take our chances when we get them. We were great and it took a fantastic strike from Mark Kerr to win the game, but I think we deserved something out of that game on chances alone.”