‘All to play for’ as Raith Rovers take slender advantage to Forfar for second leg showdown

Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 'Raith v Forfar - Iain Davidson v John Baird -'credit- Fife Photo Agency
Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 'Raith v Forfar - Iain Davidson v John Baird -'credit- Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers hope to take a step towards the Championship on Saturday as they travel to Forfar for their promotion play-off semi-final second leg.

Leading 2-1 from Tuesday’s first leg at Stark’s Park, the Kirkcaldy side need only avoid defeat to book their place in the final against either Montrose or Queen of the South.

With the club running subsidised buses for £5 a head, manager John McGlynn is hopeful a large and vocal travelling support can help his team finish the job.

“We’ve given the fans the lead we were all striving to get so we’re hoping we’ll take a good crowd up there,” he said.

“We’re pleading with the fans to turn out in big numbers, make plenty noise up there, and try to get us over the winning line.”

While Raith hold the slender advantage, Forfar have good reason to believe the tie is still very much alive.

The Angus side pipped Rovers to a second place finish in League One, while they have also won the last three meetings between the clubs at Station Park, all by one goal.

Jim Weir’s side have also won nine of their last 10 home games, drawing the other, leaving McGlynn (inset) in no doubt over how important the slender first leg advantage could be.

“You’re always going to take a win when you know the games are going to be very close,” he said.

“We’ve played a lot better and got beat, but we dug in and defended most things very well.

“We’d want to retain posession a bit better, and if we can do that we’ll create more chances to score.

“But we’ve scored in every away game this season and we’ll look to keep that going.

“It’s finely balanced and all to play for.”

The Raith manager sprung a surprise with his midweek team selection by including four centre halves in an unfamiliar 3-5-2 system.

Having lost too many goals in recent weeks, the onus was on conceding fewer chances to the opposition, and in that regard, McGlynn felt his changes worked.

“The goals against column will tell you we’ve lost too many goals, so we tried something,” he said. “There was still an intent to score goals and win the game, but with three central defenders we were a bit more resilient at the back. We weren’t as open, and they didn’t create an awful lot.

“We’d worked on it for two or three weeks. We’ll assess it now and see what we do for Saturday, but we’re delighted with the victory.”

Should Raith make it through to next week’s final it will be the first time in six attempts that the club has successfully negotiated a two-legged play-off tie.

“We would like to break that trend and show that, as a club, we can do it,” McGlynn said.

“Every single one of us has to be ready to go when that whistle goes and give everything we’ve got for the football club to get to that final, and potentially the Championship, which has always been our aim.

“It’s also Forfar’s aim so we have to be prepared to roll the sleeves up and be very determined to fight for the jersey.”

In the other semi-final, Montrose claimed a 2-1 first leg win over Queen of the South, who face being relegated from the Championship unless they recover at Palmerston Park on Saturday.

Should Rovers make it through, the first leg of the final takes place on Wednesday, when they would either travel to Links Park to face Montrose or welcome Queens to Stark’s Park.

Both legs of the final will be shown live on BBC Alba.