Raith Rovers had options to sign a keeper before fielding Ryan Stevenson, says SPFL

Ryan Stevenson
Ryan Stevenson held out for more than an hour before losing a goal to Ayr

Raith Rovers had plenty of ways to sign a new keeper rather than use midfielder Ryan Stevenson in goal for their 1-0 loss to Ayr United, according to the Scottish Professional Football League.

Rovers manager John Hughes said the governing body should be "embarrassed" by its decision to reject his club's request for a postponement.

His club had no fit goalkeepers.

"Raith Rovers had a number of options open to them once their only fit goalkeeper was injured," said the SPFL.

"They could have brought in an under-21 goalkeeper, or an out-of-contract goalkeeper of any age, in each case without any permission from the SPFL board.

"They could also have sought permission from the SPFL board to bring in a goalkeeper of any age on an emergency basis.

"All of these options were explained to Raith Rovers, who chose to do none of these things and instead requested a postponement on the day of the match."

The Kirkcaldy club, who have Kevin Cuthbert and Aaron Lennox recovering from injuries sustained earlier this year, had gone without a goalkeeper on the bench for their previous three matches.

Then Conor Brennan injured a foot in Saturday's defeat by Queen of the South and a deal to sign Celtic goalkeeper Logan Bailly on an emergency loan fell through late on Monday evening.

Conor Brennan replaces Kevin Cuthbert at Tannadice
Cuthbert was replaced by Brennan at Dundee United on 4 February

Hughes hit out at the SPFL after Farid el Alagui's header moved Ayr, who are second-bottom of the Championship, to within one point of his eighth-placed side.

"It's just making a mockery of it, isn't it?" he said. "They need to have a right good look at themselves. I hope they're embarrassed.

"The guys that sit and vote and put their hand up for it to go ahead, half of them couldn't kick the blankets off the bed, never played football. That's the problem - they don't know what it's all about.

"Maybe for the best of Scottish football, we'll take the hit, but this can't happen again in Scottish football.

"We've got four loans in, so we'd have to try to get someone to go back to their club before we could [sign a goalkeeper on loan].

"We'd be looking at someone who is under 21 for the loan and, if we'd brought in a young keeper, I don't think he'd have done any better than Ryan Stevenson.

"He had a great save in the first minute. He acquitted himself very, very well."

While Ayr manager Ian McCall believed his side were on a "hiding to nothing" because of the "whole circus" surrounding the game, he felt it did not affect the outcome.

"It didn't really influence the game," he said. "He had no chance with the goal and he made a couple of good saves."

'Strange experience'

Farid El Alagui and Ryan Stevenson
El Alagui was denied by Stevenson before nodding the winner in the second half

Stevenson, 32, played in goal for the final five minutes of Partick Thistle's 4-0 defeat by Hearts in October 2015 after Ryan Scully was sent off with the Jags having used all of their substitutes.

But he wants his stint in goal on Tuesday to be his last.

"It was a strange experience," said Stevenson, who revealed he was wearing gloves belonging to Dundee United goalkeeper Cammy Bell.

"I didn't want to let the boys down and I suppose it's something I can tick off the bucket list.

"I think that's the gloves hung up now. I've got them in the bag and I'll get the shirt framed.

"It's not something you'd have thought you'd have to do in a professional game.

"Hopefully, it's something I'll not be repeating again."

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