Raith feeling recharged and ready for Falkirk

Raith manager Ray McKinnon. Pic: George McLuskie
Raith manager Ray McKinnon. Pic: George McLuskie

Raith Rovers are recharged and ready for the remainder of the season.

That was the message from manager Ray McKinnon as his players return from a free weekend with a trip to Falkirk on Saturday.

“We gave the players a couple of days off at the weekend to recharge batteries, and there was a few with niggles who needed to recover,” he said.

“There’s a busy time coming up and we gave them a wee rest period but we’ve worked really hard this week - they probably think it’s like pre-season - but we’ve got a big second half of the season coming up so we want everyone as fit as can be.”

Despite only one league win in 10 games, Rovers are still holding onto fourth place in the Championship as teams below them failed to capitalise.

“We’re still in fourth - and it still gives us a chance,” McKinnon said. “I don’t think we’ve got our just rewards out of games recently but we can’t afford to carry injuries and we’ve had tonnes of them.

“Jason Thomson came back and played in the development game on Monday night and he will be a massive bonus for us.

“He got to the by-line six times and created a goal - we’ve missed that.

“David Bates has signed a new contract and has been different class, but he’s a centre-half playing right back so he doesn’t give us those power runs. Jason will bring that back and we’ve pencilled him in for the Livingston game.”

With Craig Barr also featuring in Monday’s 3-1 development victory over Stirling - which saw Leicester loannee Harry Panayiotou on the scoresheet - only Lewis Vaughan remains on the sidelines.

Despite their current position, McKinnon believes Raith are under no pressure to claim fourth place.

“We have nothing to lose this season,” he said. “Nobody expected us to be sitting where we are, with the teams in the league this year.

“We’ll recruit well in summer - we’ve got our eyes on a few players already, we’ve spoken to them and they’ve agreed to come, so we’re in good shape for next year.

“If we can have a right good go between now and the end of the season I’ll be delighted.”

Raith travel to Falkirk on Saturday and while the Bairns are 18 points better off, and won both previous meetings this season, McKinnon believes there is little between the sides.

“They are a strong side, but there’s nothing for us to go and fear,” he said.

“We’ve just got to go there and be competitive, and if we get the wee bit of luck that’s deserted us in front of goal then we’ll be a threat.

“We just need to keep putting in these performances, keep it tight at the back, and hopefully it will turn in front of goal for us.”

Meanwhile, Raith fans will be kicked out of the Turnbull Hutton Stand when Rangers visit Stark’s Park on April 2.

After consultations with Police Scotland, the club has decided that the main stand will be used exclusively to accomodate Rangers fans as demand is expected to exceed the 3800 away capacity at the ground.

This will involve relocating around 200 season ticket holders to the south stand, and letters have been sent to those affected.

Eric Drysdale, Raith chief executive, explained: “This could be seen as a controversial move, but hopefully our fans will understand that for this one occasion, it makes financial sense for the club to sell an extra 1000 plus tickets to Rangers fans at a time when they could be close to winning the league.

“We appreciate the inconvenience but this is the only way to accommodate the away support safely.”

Affected season ticket holders will receive a voucher. Tickets for the Rangers game, and the Hibs game on March 19, go on sale next week with discounts for fans who buy in February.