It was last minute heartbreak in Kirkcaldy for the Doonhamers as a late Mark Stewart strike made sure Queens lost their third consecutive Championship match. Queens had the majority of possession and if they were more clinical in front of goal they could have been out of sight but with Raith`s first shot on target they completed the smash and grab and move above Skelton`s men in the Championship table.
Queens gaffer Gavin Skelton made two changes from last week`s 1-0 defeat away to Ayr United. Steven Rigg and former Raith favourite Grant Anderson returned to the starting line-up in place of Mark Millar and Dean Brotherston- switching back to a 4-4-2 formation with Rigg partnering Stephen Dobbie up front.
Queens hadn`t scored in four Championship matches, in fact the last time Queens hit the back of the net on league duty was against Raith Rovers in a 3-1 victory at Palmerston in early September.
The Doonhamers had a glorious opportunity to take the lead with the game four minutes old. A long ball into the Rovers box was held up by Rigg who passed the ball to the unmarked Dobbie but the former Swansea striker tried to side foot past the `keeper but didn`t connect cleanly and his shot was easily collected by Kevin Cuthbert.
Three minutes later, Rovers` hitman Mark Stewart claimed for a penalty kick after make-shift right-back Darren Brownlie used his strength to muscle him off the ball in the box but referee Crawford Allan dismissed Stewart`s pleas and pointed for a goal-kick.
It was an end-to-end start to the evening proceedings and the visitors had two chances to go ahead. First Dykes, picked the ball up on the edge of the box and hit a powerful strike over Cuthbert`s goal and moments later Steven Rigg fired his right-footed effort over from 17-yards.
Dykes in first half action
On 16 minutes, Rovers right-midfielder Chris Johnston used his pace to get in front of Brownlie and swung in an attractive cross from the left, deep into the six-yard box and Queens stopper Lee Robinson did extremely well to tip the ball over as Stewart put Robbo under pressure.
Johnston was looking like the hosts major threat down the left and got past Brownlie to fire over a powerful low cross into the penalty area but couldn`t find any of his teammates.
Queens were the better side for the majority of the first-half and could have been ahead on the half hour mark when Marshall`s corner into the area was pinballed around before Rigg got a shot away but was blocked by the Raith defence.
It was another frustrating 45 minutes without a goal in regular time for the Doonhamers but to look at the positives they did create numerous goal scoring opportunities and were the better side during the first period.
HALF TIME Raith 0-0 QOS
The Doonhamers started the second period the brightest and could have taken the lead three minutes in when Marshall`s diagonal cross found Anderson on the right and the former Raith winger swung in a terrific ball, headed by Dobbie but was collected by Cuthbert.
Skelton`s men were upping the ante and on 57 minutes they should have been ahead when Stephen Dobbie whipped in a set-piece from the left and was met by the head of captain Chris Higgins which went inches wide of Cuthbert`s right-hand post.
Higgins header goes over the bar
Queens made their first substitution on 62 minutes, youngster Dean Brotherston replaced the tiring Grant Anderson. Raith made their first change two minutes later Lewis Vaughan coming on for Declan McManus, who had a night to forget.
The visitors had another opporutunity to take the lead moments later when Dobbie picked the ball up 30-yards out, turned his marker, laid the ball left to Dykes but the Australian`s effort hit off the leg of McHattie and out for a corner.
Four minutes later, the fresh Dean Brotherston got past Mchattie and bombed down the right-wing and hit a low- cross into the box but was cleared out for a corner. Stephen Dobbie had an effort from 30-yards comfortably gathered by Cuthbert.
With time running out Queens kept pushing for the opener and had a glorious chance to make sure all three points returned to Palmerston when Dykes was fouled by M`Voto 20-yards out. Dobbie stepped up and curled a low free-kick, to which Cuthbert matched with a superb save.
Gary Locke made his final substitution with former Hearts man Rudi Skacel coming on for Jordan Thompson with five minutes left. And it was an inspired change, as the match was won with Raith`s first chance of the evening. Skacel was sent down the right-wing by Callachan and the Czech swung in a dangerous cross and striker Mark Stewart found space between Dowie and Higgins to guide a low shot into the corner of the net to snatch all three points.
Stewart strikes to steal the points
The result means Rovers leapfrog us in third position, and if fifth placed Greenock Morton win their game in hand, Queens could be out of the top four for the first time this season. Queens