Scorers: Raith Rovers - Gullan (45, 60), Baird (49); Stranraer - Stewart (75)

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STRANRAER were punished on the break as Raith Rovers ran out comfortable winners at Stark's Park.

Mark Stewart found the net for a second successive week as Stranraer staged a late fightback, but the visitors were unable to salvage an unlikely result after going three goals down.

Stevie Farrell selected an unchanged side, but his hand was forced after only 7 minutes when Ryan Thomson collided with a team mate, suffering what was later revealed to be a fractured cheekbone.

With Thomson unable to continue, Stewart eventually took his place alongside David Dangana up top.

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It was a first half of few chances which only came to life in the final minutes.

Scott Robertson clearly felt confident after his goal against Clyde and he came within inches of opening the scoring for Stranraer.

The defender latched onto a Carlo Pignatiello pass and made space to shoot, with his shot taking a big deflection but only finding the advertisiing boards behind the goal.

Moments later and James Hilton brought a stop from Raith keeper Ross Munro, but the hosts capitalised on the counter attack to take the lead.

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Jamie Gullan raced onto a long ball over the top and kept his cool to round Blues custodian Max Currie and tap home.

Any hopes of a quick leveller from Stranraer were dashed within five minutes of the restart.

Veteran striker John Baird received a crossfield pass and his placed shot for the bottom corner left Currie no chance.

Blues defender Adam Cummins saw a shot tipped over the bar, but the game was put well and truly out of sight on the hour mark as Gullan doubled his tally with a powerful effort from the edge of the box.

Max Currie was in inspired form to deny Raith a fourth and with the game seemingly beyond Stranraer, Stewart handed his side a lifeline with a quarter of an hour to play.

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The striker found space to turn and tuck a tidy shot into the bottom corner for his second goal in as many weeks.

But despite a spirited late showing, it would only be a consolation as Raith saw out the closing minutes to take all three points.

The Blues will now look to return to form as they welcome third-placed Airdrieonians at Stair Park next weekend.

Stranraer: Currie, Robertson, Hamilton, Cummins, Allan, Hilton, Pignatiello (Elliott 64), McManus, Stirling, Thomson (Stewart 7), Dangana (Murphy 64).
Not used: Burgess, I Smith, D Smith.

Raith Rovers: Munro, McKay, S Anderson, Benedictus, Miller (Watson 64), Matthews, Spencer, Gullan, MacDonald (Armstrong 47), Baird, Bowie (G Anderson 84).
Not used: McGurn, Dingwall, J Smith, Tait.

Referee: Lloyd Wilson
HT: 1-0

Photos: Bill McCandlish