Raith boss sets target for relegation run-in

Raith Rovers manager John Hughes. Pic: Michael GillenRaith Rovers manager John Hughes. Pic: Michael Gillen
Raith Rovers manager John Hughes. Pic: Michael Gillen
Raith Rovers boss John Hughes believes four more points are required to save the club from relegation.

The Kirkcaldy side gave their survival hopes a huge boost with a 2-0 home victory over Morton on Saturday – a result that lifted the club from ninth to seventh in the Championship standings, albeit just one point clear of Dumbarton in the relegation play-off zone.

But with three games left, starting with a trip to champions Hibs on Wednesday, followed by St Mirren away and finishing with Ayr United at home, both relegation rivals, Hughes has warned there is still plenty work to do.

“I still think we need four points,” he told Press.

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“At this stage of the season when everyone is fighting for their lives, you can get surprise results, so we need to control what we can do, and hopefully that might be enough.

“We just need to take it one game at a time and try to build momentum.”

Hughes admitted that the financial consequences of relegation could put jobs at risk – even those on contracts.

“I know what’s at stake and what we’re fighting for,” Hughes said.

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“Guys are on contracts and maybe they think the club will have to honour them, but it doesn’t always work like that.

“We all get a living and livelihood from it, and there are people that care for this club – we have to play for these guys and the supporters.”

Raith travel to Hibs without the suspended Rudi Skacel, but Hughes plans to ask Hibs boss Neil Lennon for permission to allow on loan Danny Handling to play against his parent club.

“Hibs have won the league so I don’t think they have anything to lose and it’s in Danny’s best interests that he plays because he needs game time,” he said. “We’ll ask the question and see what they say.”

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Raith’s trip to Easter Road was moved to Wednesday night due to Hibs involvement in the Scottish Cup semi-finals this weekend, where they face Aberdeen.

On the back of such a big match, and with the title already in the bag, it may be considered a good time to face Hibs, but Hughes admitted he would rather the hosts still had something at stake.

“All the pressure and expectation was Hibs to go and win the league,” he said. “Now that they’ve won it they’ll be more relaxed and want to play more football and that can be a dangeorus animal.

“I’d like to be playing them with a little bit pressure on them in terms of needing points, but we’ll look forward to the game and prepare properly.

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“I’m seeing the training improving as the weeks go by, and we’re starting to see more vocal leaders and guys knowing what’s expected of them at training.

“There’s no acceptance of losing goals at training – they are getting frustrated and angry with each other, but in a positive manner.

“The standards we’re trying to set, we’re starting to see that come onto the pitch. We’re trying to work on a mindset that when you play for Raith Rovers, this is what’s expected of you, and I’m seeing it coming.

“I thought we were very good on Saturday and there were a lot of star performers. I felt it was Davo’s best game since I’ve come to the club – Ross Matthews too.”