Closed-door Alloa visit will act as Raith Rovers' rehearsal for cup tie

Saturday’s private viewing against Alloa is likely to offer Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray a number of indicators regarding personnel and formation, with the competitive season about to start next week.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 8th July 2022, 10:52 am
Updated Friday, 8th July 2022, 10:52 am

Rovers welcome the Wasps to Stark’s Park for a midday pre-season friendly, behind closed doors, before the 2022-23 season starts in earnest on Wednesday evening.

Peterhead come to visit in the first group match of the Premier Sports League Cup and Raith boss Murray said he’d be looking partially towards that assignment when Alloa come to Kirkcaldy

The absence of spectators and journalists means Murray should have a distraction-free focus on his side but he said he wouldn’t be looking for anything different in particular – really just more of the same after his players’ improved showing in last Saturday’s pre-season visit to Kelty Hearts.

Raith drew 1-1 with the promoted League Two champions, after a disappointing midweek defeat at home to Queen of the South, and Murray declared himself a lot happier.

Brian Rice’s Alloa side would be organised and very well prepared, he said, representing, like Kelty, another example of good-quality opposition.

However, it was still pre-season and he was conscious of game time for the players, so he would certainly have one eye on the Peterhead game as well.

Murray said he was looking forward very much to meeting Jim McInally’s Blue Toon squad, who finished respectably in League One last term after a strong burst of late-season form.

Ex-Airdrie boss Murray said he’d played the Balmoor side over the last two years and the matches had been very hard, so this would be a good way to start a new season.

“They are very well drilled and they have a very experienced manager," he said. “The one thing about Peterhead is they never, ever make life easy, so we expect a very, very tough game.”

That said, Murray also expected Raith to have enough about them in terms of quality and fitness to hopefully overcome the challenge, although they couldn’t assume they’d just go out and win.

He said Saturday’s game at Kelty resembled a cup tie more than a friendly and had the added spice of being a Fife derby.

“It was a very, very high-tempo game for a friendly, that's for sure. Which is great, because that's what you want. Credit to both sides for that.

"We played a lot better, changed our formation, had a bit more aggression and a far better work ethic. It was good to be there.

"Kelty are a decent side and used to winning games, so it’s a little bit of progress, a very good run-out, and good to see the guys have got that in them.”

Murray added: "I felt we stuck to it really well. Also, the intensity and aggression was far more than we showed on Wednesday.

"The defence were great. They had a lot of the ball and they moved it really well. I don't think we gave away too many chances. I think Kelty had one shot on target. It was a good finish from the boy.

"But, if we're looking at the bits we can get better at, we can't let players come inside the box and get shots off, so we'll need to work on that in the wide areas.

"But overall, compared to Wednesday, I felt it was a far better performance from us, in lots of ways.”

Murray also elaborated on a couple of the personnel switches, with all eight Raith substitutes being deployed and getting ‘minutes in the legs’.

"Jamie MacDonald got a wee bit of a tight calf, so we had to take him off,” he said. “It was purely precautionary. Hopefully, he'll be fine.

"At this stage, there is no risk-taking. That was the only one, everyone else seemed fine.

“Kareem Isiaka (trialist) got tired in the second half, which is to be expected from players that have not played or trained for a while. I thought he did OK.

"It's very difficult for trialists to come into a team when they don't know people and how we play. It's also hard for our players to play with trialists.

"We'll assess that and see where we go."