Raith 1-0 Kilmarnock: Tommy Wright seeks Willie Collum apology as John McGlynn sympathises over penalty decision

The juggernaught that is John McGlynn’s Raith Rovers continue to make major moves in the cinch Championship after a hard fought win over Kilmarnock in Kirkcaldy.

Kilmarnock manager Tommy Wright confronts referee Willie Collum over the penalty decision in the 1-0 defeat to Raith. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Kilmarnock manager Tommy Wright confronts referee Willie Collum over the penalty decision in the 1-0 defeat to Raith. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

The three points which came courtesy of Dario Zanatta's contentious second half spot kick were significant in that they stretched the home side's impressive unbeaten run to 15 matches and cemented their position as serious title contenders.

Keeping them one point behind leaders Inverness, the win also moved the Fifers four points clear of pre-season title favourites Killie, who are finding out that 28 consecutive years in the top flight is no guarantee of an immediate return.

Boss Tommy Wright felt aggrieved at the way things played out at Stark's Park having had the best, and only real chances of the match prior to Raith's controversial penalty opener on 58 minutes.

Dario Zanatta scores a penalty in Raith's 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Stark's Park. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

A ball bounced into the box and inadvertently struck the hand of defender Dylan McGowan. Willie Collum thought it was a penalty and pointed to the spot. Wright disagreed and made his feelings clear to the referee as he stormed across the pitch at full-time.

"I think the only person that thought it was a penalty was Willie," said the incensed Killie manager. "John McGlynn didn’t think it was. The players aren’t really even appealing for it. It’s not a penalty I’ve seen it back, it can’t be a penalty. I know Willie has not even got a good view of it but he said he had and he is adamant it’s a penalty. I hope he looks at it back and maybe phones me up on Monday and gives me an apology because that’s a poor decision."

The visitors had the best chances of a tight first half but Blair Alston failed to beat Jamie MacDonald with a clear chance in the box, while Oli Shaw was also denied by the Raith goalkeeper in a one-on-one.

Rovers played plenty of the eye-catching football that has become synonymous with 'McGlynn-ball', and were marshalled superbly in defence by Christophe Berra, but the home side had struggled to create much prior to Collum's intervention.

Asked whether he felt his side merited the win, McGlynn said: "For our spirit, work, camaraderie, attitude, fighting and the art of defending — we did all that very well. Jamie hasn’t had an awful lot to do.

"Our last two performances up at Inverness and Arbroath haven’t been the best, but we passed the ball better and were more like ourselves today."

McGlynn also admitted that he sympathised with the plight of his opposite number but felt Collum had no option but to penalise the handball.

"For the penalty, as far as I was concerned, the ball bounced up and it hit his hand. Willie gave a penalty. I hate that. I hate a penalty kick decision — either for or against me — for that. It’s a horrible way to lose a game.

"But the handball rule now is a lottery. Technically it is a penalty and Willie has to give it. But I don’t like getting penalties that way and I said that to Tommy."

Killie boss Wright also had to endure some less than flattering chants from disgruntled away fans after a third straight league defeat that saw the Ayrshire side drop to fourth.

"They are entitled to say what they want but stick by us, it’s their team," was his message to them.

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