Raith to show respect to Ross County U20s

Raith Rovers boss Barry Smith. Pic: George McLuskie
Raith Rovers boss Barry Smith. Pic: George McLuskie

Raith Rovers take a break from league duties this weekend when they host Ross County U20s in the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup second round.

The Staggies youth side claimed the SPFL Development League title last season and knocked out League One opposition in the shape of Forfar Athletic in the previous round.

Raith boss Barry Smith will not be taking the Highland youngsters lightly and plans to field a strong side with one eye on next week’s top of the table clash with Ayr United at Stark’s Park.

“We want to be ready for the Ayr game and giving guys a two-week break probably won’t help so we’ll be playing our strongest team,” Smith said.

“We had a couple of enforced changes for the Brora game for different reasons but with everybody being fit and healthy, we’ll play our strongest team.”

Smith insists that his players will show the County U20s the same respect as any other opposition faced this season.

“I’ve watched them myself so I know what they are all about, and they’re not a typical 20s team,” he said. “They are quite aggressive and they press the ball very well.

“We’ll have to make sure we keep doing the right things to get a win.”

Raith fans were left raving over the performance in a 5-0 win at Bayview last Saturday and, with the team now unbeaten in six, Smith is pleased with the start to the campaign.

“We’re scoring goals, but we’ve only conceded two in the league, so everybody is playing their part at the moment,” he said.

“Individuals will win the game but a collective unity and team spirit is what will get us through the season, and we’re certainly going in the right direciton at the moment.”

It will be Raith’s first match without Ross Callachan after the club captain was transferred to Hearts for an undisclosed fee this week.

Moving in the opposite direction, Dario Zanatta will be added to the squad after the 20-year-old attacking midfielder joined on a season-long loan from the the Tynecastle club.

Dario has represented Canada at under 16, 18 and 20 levels and has spent two loan spells at Queens Park since joining the Jambos in 2015.