Raith full of cup tie confidence after derby demolition
Raith Rovers’ humiliation of Kingdom neighbours Dunfermline on Tuesday night has provided the perfect tonic for Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie against one of the ‘teams of the season’.
Rovers will temporarily lay aside their thoughts of promotion from the Scottish Championship on Saturday as they travel for the third-round encounter against Livingston, who’ve rarely been far from the sporting headlines since Gary Holt quit as manager in December.
A 13-match unbeaten run under David Martindale, alongside all the controversy surrounding his suitability as Holt’s successor, along with an appearance in the League Cup final and a guaranteed top six finish in the Premier League were just some of the factors which kept the West Lothian men in the spotlight.
However, Raith Rovers strengthened their hold on second place in the Championship behind Hearts with a stunning 5-1 midweek win over Dunfermline, a side also with aspirations for the play-offs and managed by a celebrated former Stark’s Park player, Stevie Crawford.
The surge of confidence from Rovers’ performance on the night and putting five goals past their local adversaries would indicate Saturday’s match, with the extra spice of the Scottish Cup thrown in, could be a real belter.
Rovers’ captain, Kyle Benedictus, said the Kirkcaldy side were most definitely not heading to the Tony Macaroni Arena simply to make up the numbers.
“It’s going to be difficult – they are an SPL team and they did well getting themselves to the top six,” conceded the 29-year-old defender. “But we are playing well and we are playing with confidence.
"We will go there and give it our all and see what happens. I’m sure it will be a cracking game.”
Striker Lewis Vaughan, 25, enjoyed a special night on Tuesday, scoring two goals against Dunfermline, as did strike partner Jamie Gullan.
Vaughan reckoned all the expectation would be on Livingston and Raith’s self-belief would be strong after the midweek win.
"The pressure will be on them (Livingston),” he added. “They are a league above us, so it's all on them. There is no pressure on us. We will go and play football and, hopefully, get a wee bit of cup magic.”
Rovers manager John McGlynn said he was in “wonderland” after Tuesday night’s display.
“The performance was fantastic,” he said. “I thought it was of a very, very high standard. The football we played was magnificent and, on the night, we managed to click in front of goal.
"We have been playing well and not getting goals but, on Tuesday, everything clicked for us. It was an outstanding performance.
"We have played some good football all season – earlier in the season, we were scoring goals and recently they had kind of dried up. But every single player performed to an outstanding level, possibly above Championship level. It was incredible from where I was standing.”
It was Rovers’ biggest win over Dunfermline since 1983 and McGlynn added it would be remembered for a long time – although it may be another 38 years before Rovers won by that kind of margin again.
"We got beaten 4-1 at East End Park not so long ago, so it was a little bit of payback for that as well,” said McGlynn. “It’s great for everyone Raith Rovers minded and connected with Raith Rovers that we have managed to put on a performance and get a scoreline like that against our local rivals.”
McGlynn added the combination of present events, plus the added flavour of a derby encounter, had possibly spurred Rovers on.
“It was the whole mix,” he said. “It’s very tight in the league. We had a good result on Saturday and came into the game with confidence. It was maybe the opposite with Dunfermline – they were 2-0 up and got beaten 3-2 at Dundee. It’s never easy at Dens Park; playing there is difficult.
"They were maybe a bit down and we were a little bit up and, all of a sudden, the whole mix has come out. We are vying for that second place, trying to stay in the top four. We have been there all season and want to stay there, similar to Dunfermline, and everything really clicked.”