Raith boss relieved to avoid potential cup upset

Raith manager Ray McKinnon
Raith manager Ray McKinnon

Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon was relieved to avoid a potential Scottish Cup upset in Elgin yesterday.

Rovers survived a late scare to seal a narrow 2-1 victory over the League Two side who were previously unbeaten at Borough Briggs this season.

“They’ve got a great record at home and have got a very good young side so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” McKinnon said.

“Again, 2-0 should have been four or five and we need to learn to punish these teams, because we were miles ahead of them.

“They’ve made us sweat at the end and Cat’s made a few great saves to let us proceed to the next round.

“We’ve had a tough week, losing late goals against St Mirren, Dumbarton, and again today, so it’s maybe just a mental thing. The boys were a bit frazzled in the last five, but it’s a good result.”

Raith’s lack of sharpness in the final third when looking to kill off teams remains a frustration for McKinnon.

“Elgin got off to a good start in the second half but when our second goal came it was overdue,” he said.

“Then we’ve had some very good opportunities where we should’ve done better when we got into great areas.

“Lots of credit to Elgin, they kept going and got a bit of joy at the end, and made it difficult for us, but the most important thing after our week was a victory - and we achieved that.”

Raith have conceded five goals in their last three games, all of them in the last 10 minutes - a situation McKinnon is keen to address.

“The boys have been great in the three games this week and to lose five goals in those three games is not a true reflection,” he said.

“But we need to look at it - and we have been looking at it - and again today they were excellent.

“It was a heavy park, there were a lot of heavy hamstrings, they’ve not played on that sort of heaviness all season.

“We done the job well and had some really nice bits of football. We should’ve won that game a wee bit better.

“We got our goals, but should’ve had a couple more. That’s the really frustrating thing for me - getting into so many good areas and not punishing teams.”

McKinnon was particularly pleased with the performance of Ryan McCord who had only one misplaced pass in his 88 minutes on the park.

“We’ve had to really be at Pongo all season because we know how good he is - he’s such a talent on the ball and so comfortable,” he said.

“I spoke to him before the game and said Tuesday was just about back to his best, and to take it out there today.

“He gives us so much composure on the ball so I’m really pleased for him.”

McKinnon was also delighted with the contribution of David Bates, who was recalled from his loan at Brechin to slot into the right back position in an injury-hit Rovers defence.

“He’s fit, he’s been playing at a good level in their first team, and I’ve got great confidence in him,” McKinnon said.

“The only thing I was upset with him was for getting himself booked in the first five minutes. He’s not a natural right back, but he done great.”