Raith will need ‘optimism and belief’ at Tynecastle

Hearts player Jamie Walker with Raith Rovers captain Jason Thomson, wearing the commemorative poppy strips that the teams will wear at Saturday's game. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Hearts player Jamie Walker with Raith Rovers captain Jason Thomson, wearing the commemorative poppy strips that the teams will wear at Saturday's game. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Raith Rovers will have to up their game if they are to avoid becoming the latest victims of a Tynecastle slaughter.

Rovers travel to the home of Hearts on Saturday looking to arrest a slump in league form that has seen them collect just three points from the last 15 available.

However, the Kirkcaldy men face an uphill task as they take on a Hearts side who have simply crushed the opposition at home this season.

Dumbarton, Livingston and Cowdenbeath have all been hit for five at the home of the unbeaten league leaders, while Falkirk also conceded four.

Raith themselves lost 4-0 to the Jambos at Stark’s Park in August while a recent trip to Ibrox saw Grant Murray’s men lose 6-1 to Rangers.

However, the Rovers manager believes his team is capable of not only avoiding a heavy defeat, but taking a positive result from Tynecastle.

“It’s a game we’ll be looking to take something from, first and foremost,” Murray told the Press. “It’s always daunting when you go to play the league leaders away from home, especially when they’ve been blowing teams away.

“But it’s a game the players should be looking forward to. We’ll have a game plan and we need to go there with optimism and belief.

“Hearts have started the season undefeated but as Robbie Neilson himself said, a team is going to beat them somewhere along the line. We’ll be hoping that can be us, and I don’t see why not.

“We should go into the game with confidence. We have a squad of players that has already won games this season, and played well.

“We’ve been to some difficult places and taken something from the game so we should take some belief.”

The match has taken on extra significance as it falls on Remembrance weekend and both clubs will wear special ‘poppy’ strips to mark the occasion.

Fans have also responded to the occasion - the match is a close to a sell-out - and as a former Hearts player himself, Murray knows the atmosphere will be special.

“It’s a fantastic place to play at when it’s full,” Murray said.

“The stadium is so compact that the crowd are right on top of you. It’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere and we’re all looking forward to the game.”

Rovers go into the match on the back of an unconvincing Scottish Cup performance despite the 2-0 win over Linlithgow Rose.

With some fans vocally turning against Murray in recent weeks, club captain Jason Thomson has called on everyone to stick together.

“Fans pay their money and can boo or cheer or do what they want,” he said.

“It’s up to the manager to deal with that - anyone going into management will know they might come under pressure at some point.

“As a team we just need to stick together and try to get out this wee rut.”

“The last five or six games haven’t been great but we’re still sitting joint fourth with Hibs.

“As much as we haven’t been getting results, it could be worse.”

Rovers are hopeful that striker Christian Nade will return to training by the end of the week although the trip to Tynecastle may come too soon.