Biggest game of the season awaits Raith Ladies in Scottish Cup
This Sunday, Raith Rovers Ladies face their biggest challenge of the season so far in the last 16 of the SWFL Scottish Cup.
The Kirkcaldy girls face SWPL2 side Jeanfield Swifts at McDiarmid Park in Perth (kick-off 5.00 p.m) following their dramatic 4-3 win against First Division side Dee Ladies in the previous round.
Simply reaching the latter stages of the national competition is a huge achievement in itself for Raith Ladies, who only returned to women’s football in October after several years focusing purely on youth.
But manager John Fettes is hopeful that his young underdogs can cause a major shock and go one stage further by reaching the quarter-finals.
“Jeanfield are two leagues above us and doing well in their division so they will be massive favourites,” he told the Press.
“However, I’m confident our girls will give it everything they’ve got to try and upset the odds.
“Nobody outwith our camp will have given us a chance to get to this stage when you consider we only had two signed players in October.
“To get to the last 16 of the national tournament is a great achievement.
“We’ll enjoy it and hopefully do ourselves justice.”
Raith Ladies are also performing above expectations in the league.
In their first season in the SWFL Division 2 East they are currently sitting second in the table behind Dundee United at the halfway stage.
That position becomes even more remarkable when you consider the average age of the side is just 16.
“We’ve got one girl, Rebecca McGowan, who’s just turned 15 and most of the others are aged 16 to 18,” John explained.
“The oldest girl in the team is in her mid to late 20s so the average age will be circa 16.
“We’re coming up against women’s teams whose average age is in the mid-20s so we’re doing particularly well. “We’ve got a real belief in what the girls are doing and we just have to see where that takes us.
“If we stick together for a couple of years hopefully we can progress through the leagues.”
As well as managing the senior ladies team, John also has a wider remit as head coach for the entire Raith Ladies & Girls Football Club.
He is excited by the progress being made by the club with over 80 signed players from under 9s through to the senior ladies team.
“It’s going from strength to strength,” he said. “Numbers have doubled in the last four years.
“The 17s last year were just pipped to the league by a very strong Hibs team, and we are doing well this year throughout the age groups.”