December could hold key to Raith Rovers’ title credentials

Only four points separate the top four teams in League One, and while it’s exciting to see so many sides jostling for position at the summit of the table, you’d imagine at least one or two will possibly drop by the wayside as the season progresses.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 9:20 am
Links Park - Montrose - Angus Montrose v Raith - goalscorer Brad Spencer races towards the Raith fans to celebrate - credit- Fife Photo Agency

East Fife may already have shown the first faltering signs of a mis-step, when they were gubbed 4-0 by Airdrie last weekend, a week after an embarrassing Scottish Cup exit to BSC Glasgow, and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond when they follow it up with a home match against Falkirk this weekend.

The Bairns have appointed a new management team in Lee Miller and David McCracken, and while they may be untested as managers, they surely can’t do any worse than the previous incumbent, Ray McKinnon, who managed to dismantle and expensively rebuild two Falkirk sides in successive seasons.

For Raith Rovers however, December could very well go a long way towards establishing whether they’re in with a genuine shot of winning the title, or if the dreaded playoffs,are to be their best bet of at last scrambling from this division.

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Shaughan McGuigan - Fife Free Press columnist and panellist on BBC Scotland programme, A View from a Terrace

John McGlynn’s men play the other three sides that currently make up the top four over the festive period, starting this Saturday with a home match against league leaders Airdrie.

The Diamonds have turned their season around with six straight wins, and with Falkirk and East Fife to be faced away from home, you sense that Rovers will either have to find another gear, or manage to clear at least some of their walking wounded if they’re to still be in such a promising position come January.

Don’t get me wrong, winning games despite having virtually no shots on goal while the opposition dominates is a really good laugh, but probably not a sustainable route to success.

Other than a 3-1 win over Stranraer at the beginning of November, Rovers haven’t really looked like they’ve been at the races since the first half of the match against Clyde in October, where they raced into a two goal lead before drawing two each, and with just two league wins in seven, the cup wins over Glenavon, Elgin and Peterhead have given a slightly rosier hue to the club’s current form.

That’s not to say inconsistent teams can’t win this division. Morton won it in 2015 despite losing 11 games in the process, but you suspect that Rovers won’t be able to rely on others to stay front and centre over the coming weeks and months.

However, with Brad Spencer, Michael Miller and Regan Hendry all hopefully back in the coming weeks, the Rovers starting eleven should, touch wood, be back to looking more like the team which won six of their first eight fixtures, hitting the top of the league in the process.

Interestingly, if Rovers and Falkirk duke it out all season, they face off against each other in the final game of the season at Falkirk Stadium, in a potential winner takes all affair.

Hopefully Rovers will have wrapped it up long before then though.