Scottish Football: Nine-man Raith

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The Independent Online
ON A day when the big boys did not come out to play, the little ones set about each other with furious purpose as if to confirm their own importance in the overall plan.

There was a lot at stake, even this early in the season, for the protagonists in the Premier and First Divisions, and nowhere more than at Love Street where unbeaten Raith Rovers met second-placed St Mirren whose only defeat to date was that opening-day 7-0 reverse at Kirkcaldy.

There was no danger of a repeat this time but a furious battle saw two red cards, a penalty miss, a goal disallowed and a late own-goal equaliser for the home side. Football of the raw meat variety which had the fans howling and ensured a standing ovation for both sides at the end.

'It was just like the Alamo,' said Jimmy Bone, the St Mirren manager, after his side's siege had produced an own-goal from Ian MacLeod with six minutes remaining and that after Chic Charnley had missed a penalty and its rebound. 'The most pleasing match of my managerial career,' was the summing-up of Jimmy Nicholl of Raith even though, after Peter Hetherston's goal, Shaun Dennis was red- carded for a double-booking and at the penalty incident John McStay had to walk after handling a net-bound header. Bone conceded: 'Neither team deserved to lose.'

Neither of the Premier Division sides lost either, both matches ending in 2-2 draws and again penalties featured strongly. Partick Thistle missed one in the eighth minute at Broomfield, scored twice inside the next nine minutes, but allowed Airdrie back for a point. At Brockville Park, Falkirk could thank Jim Renton, the referee, for a soft award which helped them to a 2-2 draw with Dundee.