Highland trip holds no fears for Raith

4811038 SSFF raith hamilton 'third goal celebration - Raith Rovers against Hamilton Accies at Starks Park, Kirkcaldy
4811038 SSFF raith hamilton 'third goal celebration - Raith Rovers against Hamilton Accies at Starks Park, Kirkcaldy
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RAITH boss John McGlynn has backed his rejuvenated team to give runaway leaders Ross County a run for their money on Saturday.

County are in formidable form, with an eight-game winning streak having taken them nine points clear at the top of Division One.

However, McGlynn has an excellent record in Dingwall, losing only once in six visits, and last week’s win over Hamilton has given the Raith boss confidence that his new-look side, complete with three exciting new loan recruits from Hearts, can cause an upset in the Highlands.

Good record

“It’s a tough ask, but you can say that every other week in this league,” he said.

“Ross County have won every game since they were here eight games ago, but we have good record up there, and one that we want to try and keep.

“We have no fear of going there, and there is no doubt we will cause them problems. They will not get it all their own way.

“Their scout at our game on Saturday will recognise that, and I’m sure that will be the report that’s going back to Dingwall.

“If there’s any complacency at all from Ross County we will be there to take advantage of it.”

McGlynn is aware of the war of words between County manager Derek Adams and other First Division bosses regarding the size of the Highland club’s budget.

But he had nothing but praise for the Dingwall side.

“Ross County are a progressive football club who have done a fantastic job since entering the SFL,” he said.

“There’s no league titles handed out at the start of December, but if it is Ross County that win the league, they will have deserved to do it, irrespective of whether they have spent the most money or not.”

It was all change for Rovers last Saturday as McGlynn ripped up his team to accommodate three teenagers from Hearts.

McGlynn not only handed loan recruits Jason Holt, David Smith and Jamie Walker their debuts, he also abandoned his tried and trusted 4-4-2 formation to accomodate them.

And the Hearts youngsters rewarded him with brilliant performances as Rovers ended a four game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Hamilton.

Raith lined up in a new-look 4-5-1 formation that saw youngsters Walker and Smith on either wing, with fellow newbie Holt deployed in a three-man central midfield.

John Baird played as the lone striker, meaning his usual strike partner, Brian Graham, had to settle for a place on the bench. McGlynn explained: “Once you decide you are going to play these players, you have to play the system that suits them best.

Sacrifice

“To create more width we had to sacrfice somewhere else in the team. If you’re going to have guys standing out on the wing you risk leaving yourself wide open. You can’t just do that.

“We always play with wide players but we normally ask them to be narrower so if we lose the ball we’re in positions to win it back. It means we’re more solid, because you don’t want to lose goals.

“Playing the system we did on Saturday, with three in midfield, makes us a wee bit more solid if we’re going to go with two out-and-out wingers.

“It had to be a different shape to accomodate them, but I knew these players were going to bring something different.”

McGlynn guarded against heaping all the credit for Saturday’s victory on the loan signings, and urged Rovers fans not to expect too much from them.

“I don’t think anyone believes we’re now going to win every single match because we’ve brought the Hearts guys in,” he said. “That’s not realistic.

Learning

“They are still young players who are learning the game and it takes every single one of our players to win the football match, not just our Hearts players.

“David McGurn had a big impact on Saturday with his penalty save, and our back four were fairly solid. In the middle of the park Allan Walker had arguably the hardest job because he’s now having to accommodate a very young midfield. A lot of responbibility goes on his shoulders.

“Up front, John Baird had a hand in virtually every goal. For the second goal he played a great ball between defenders. His contribution was massive.

“As smuch as we’re talking about the changes we made, and why we made them, we cannot forget that all our other players played a massive part as well.”