Hughes hopes to lead Raith to safety at St Mirren

Raith boss John Hughes. Pic: Michael Gillen
Raith boss John Hughes. Pic: Michael Gillen

Raith Rovers boss John Hughes hopes to lead his team to safety this weekend - but stressed defeat would not be a disaster.

Despite losing at Hibs in midweek, Rovers can secure their place in the Championship next season if they win their penultimate league match away to St Mirren tomorrow.

A draw would keep matters in Rovers own hands going into the final game at home to Ayr the following weekend, but a defeat would see them relying on favours to avoid a relegation play-off.

But with the prospect of finishing bottom still a possibility, Hughes admits that he would would be happy to take his chances in a relegation play-off, if it came to it.

“I did say to the BBC that, right at this moment in time, I would take the play-off place,” he said.

“If that’s a lifebelt, to know you’ve still got two ties to stay in the league, you would take that.

“But, 100 per cent, we don’t want to be in that position.

“If we go and win on Saturday then St Mirren can’t catch us.

“It’s a high-pressure game but there will be big pressure on St Mirren as well. Who can handle it?”

Hughes took encouragement from his team’s second half display at Easter Road but he will have to lift his players after the agonising injury-time loss.

“I feel for the boys, I really, really do,” he said. .

“Having found our feet after the first 20 or 30 minutes, where we could have been a couple of goals behind, and to then put in what we did in the second-half, we certainly deserved to take something from the match.

“We could have gone on to win it because we were the stronger team towards the last 10 minutes.

“But we keep shooting ourselves in the foot and keep making fundamental mistakes.

“I’ve said that since I came in. It’s just because they’re young boys and learning their trade, and at times don’t make the right decisions, in possession and out of it.

“It’s the third goal that killed us. We worked so hard to get back into the game, let’s take a point and move on.

“To lose the goal the way we did, with a petulant hand ball from Jordan, was disappointing. Okay, he got pushed, but go down and let the referee make the decision.

“That’s what I’m talking about decision making.

“We’re a young team and I don’t think we’re street-wise and have the do’s and the don’ts, and the cons.

“We seem to be getting kicked in the backside an awful lot, and it happened again on Wednesday night.

“But in terms of what I saw in the second-half it was absolutely fantastic.”

One highlight of Wednesday’s defeat was the impressive performance of second half substitute Jonny Court, who has forced himself into the manager’s thoughts for Paisley.

Johnny Court is a lovely boy and he has that character about him that you want to help him and you want him to do well,” Hughes said.

“He’s a lovely lad, he listens, he asks questions and he works his tail off.

“He won’t get messed about, he’ll hold it up and he knows his game, and anything he gets out of the game he wants to put in to get something back.

“There’s other players who think the game owes them. That’s a character thing.

“Johnny has a goal in him and if it comes to him on Saturday I’d have no qualms to play him.”