Raith boss Hughes delighted with players' reaction

Raith Rovers boss John Hughes praised his players for giving him the reaction he wanted to his post-match rant at Dumbarton.

Thursday, 23rd March 2017, 11:50 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:47 am
Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - Raith Rovers v Dundee Utd - Ryan Hardie is congratulated after scoring - credit- Fife Photo Agency

Hughes was scathing in his criticism following the 4-0 defeat, but the team responded superbly with a spirited 2-1 victory over Dundee United at Stark’s Park on Saturday.

Now the 52-year-old boss is calling on his players to reproduce the same level of performance in the remaining seven games of the season, starting at home to Queen of the South on Saturday.

“It had to be much improved from Dumbarton, and all credit to the players, they pulled it off,” he said.

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“Although I had a rant and was on my soap box, I was calculated in what I was doing. I was looking for a reaction and seeing what I’ve got.

“I also knew that the second part of the script was still to come on Thursday and Friday at training. It was a case of knocking them down and picking them back up again.

“We told them the only thing we can do to silence all the doubters and critics is win. I was absolutely delighted that they took it on board, so all credit to these guys.

“It’s steadied the ship and set the benchmark individually and collectively, but we need to keep playing to that standard.”

After six matches in charge, Hughes feels he is now starting to develop a mutual understanding with the squad he inherited from Gary Locke.

“After Dumbarton, everybody now knows what’s required,” he said. “Anything we get we need to be prepared to graft for.

“Not just on Saturday but every day in training and I’m just feeling that we’re starting to get that. Our identity is starting to sink in.

“If we can keep implementing it with consistent levels of peformance we won’t be too far away in winning games.

“My only frustration is the difference in performances. When we’re bad we’re bad, but when we’re good we’re good.

“There’s not that in between where we play bad and still scrape the win, which is a sign of a good team.

“It’s that distance in level of performances that’s leaves you asking questions. I’m hoping we’ve rectified it.”

Hughes has taken seven points from nine in his first three home matches in charge, and he will hope to add another three points to the tally when Queens visit on Saturday.

Victory for Raith would draw them level on 35 points with the Doonhamers and drag the visitors into a five-team scrap against relegation.

“We’re up against a team who beat us quite comfortably down in Dumfries last time,” he said.

“We need to better than that. But if we play like we did on Saturday, and set that standard, we’ll be hard to beat.”

Hughes is still hopeful of bringing a fresh face to the squad although that could depend on whether he can reach agreement with Aberdeen to terminate the loan of Aaron Lennox, which would free up space for another emergency loan signing.

On the injury front, Iain Davidson returned to training this week, while Mark Stewart and Connor Brennan are expected back next week. Long-term absentee Scott Robertson is also nearing a return.

However, the news is less positive for Kevin Cuthbert, who is not expected to feature again this season due to a pelvic problem.