Peterhead lose in Kirkcaldy for fourth time this season

Peterhead goalkeeper Greg Fleming makes a penalty save to deny Regan Hendry. Pic: Duncan Brown
Peterhead goalkeeper Greg Fleming makes a penalty save to deny Regan Hendry. Pic: Duncan Brown

Raith Rovers 2 Peterhead 1

Peterhead will be glad to see the back of Stark's Park as they lost for the fourth time in Kirkcaldy this season.

Blue Toon goalkeeper Greg Fleming was the star of the show as he denied league leaders Raith Rovers with a string of superb saves, including a penalty stop to prevent his team falling 3-1 behind before half-time.

Jim McInally's side improved after the break, and had a chance snatch a point when the home side were reduced to 10 men in the 79th minute following a red card for defender Dave McKay, but despite going close, hitting the woodwork, they were unable to make the extra man count.

Peterhead hoped to avoid a repeat of their three previous visits to Stark's Park this season that saw them concede an early goal.

However, a loose pass from David Ferguson was ruthlessly punished by Dylan Tait in the ninth minute, the Raith youngster firing a terrific strike past Fleming from 25 yards for the opener.

The Blue Toon hit back just two minutes later when a Jack Leitch cross was met by Derek Lyle and his first-time effort squirmed inside the far post with goalkeeper Ross Munro wrong-footed.

The response from Raith was to take an even firmer grip on the game with some attacking football that Peterhead struggled to contend with and, from a Kieran MacDonald cross, John Baird's flick drew a point-blank save from Fleming.

Rovers got themselves back in front just two minutes later when defender Jason Brown misread a bounce, allowing Grant Anderson to run in behind and deliver the perfect ball across goal for Jamie Gullan to slam home his ninth of the season.

Fleming was all that stood between the home side and a comfortable half-time scoreline.

He made a brilliant double-save on the half hour, first denying Anderson after Tait's pass had sent the forward in the clear, then quickly getting back to his feet to push away Regan Hendry's powerful low strike from the edge of the box.

His next stop from Baird will be a contender for save of the season as he somehow kept out a powerful diving header from Jamie Watson's cross at close range.

A push in the back of Baird from Paddy Boyle saw referee Gavin Ross award Rovers a penalty four minutes before the break, but Fleming denied them again, diving to his left to turn Hendry's well-struck penalty past the post.

Peterhead changed shape at the interval and got themselves more of a foothold in the match, but struggled to threaten the home goal.

Their chances of rescuing a point improved following McKay's dismissal, referee Ross showing a second yellow card following a clumsy challenge on the edge of the box.

Munro's save from the resultant free-kick, diving down low to his left to push away Ryan Conroy's dangerous effort, ensured Rovers didn't suffer double punishment, but it took the woodwork to spare Rovers two minutes later as Lyle's header from a corner struck the crossbar.

Aidan Smith also flashed a volley wide as Peterhead applied late pressure but to no avail.