Raith Rovers boss John McGlynn says his players must take responsibility for improving the team’s defensive record after insisting he will not compromise his attacking style.
After conceding four in Saturday’s derby defeat at East Fife, the Kirkcaldy side has now lost 22 goals in 10 fixtures across league and cup this season, with two clean sheets against Dumbarton and Montrose providing only false hope that the issues had been addressed.
The erratic performances have infuriated McGlynn but he is taking encouragement from the fact that his team are scoring goals – 13 in five games is the best record in the division so far.
“There’s no consistency there,” he said. “You think you’ve got over it, then we fall foul again to conceding very cheap goals.
“It’s extremely frustrating but the up side, even at this early stage, is that we’re the top scorers in the league, and we can’t lose what we’re good at.
“We can’t go ultra-defensive because we’re an attacking team and we want to play good football – that’s what’s got us the goals since myself and Paul (Smith) have been here.
“It’s work on the training ground, but more so in games, picking up good positions, being aggressive, being committed, reacting, and putting your body on the line.”
McGlynn was particularly disappointed with the manner of “basic” goals lost on Saturday.
“For the first, we have three experienced defenders around Ryan Wallace, and he’s managed to beat our players and put it on a plate for his team mate,” he said. “That is undoubtedly bad defending – you can’t hide from that.
“The three other goals all come from set plays, where very single player is a defender.
“We will have a guy zonal on the front post area, after that we’re man for man.
“We put our best players against their best players with regards to matching up in a physical sense. There’s a responsibility thereafter for the players to compete, challenge, and react. On Saturday we didn’t do that well enough.
“The players are well organised prior to the game, but there has to be a level of commitment, aggression, desire to get that ball out your box.
“You can talk about formations, shape, style of play, but there’s always going to be a corner kick, free-kick, or long throw into your box.
“So you’re going to have to defend the box, and we have to do that better, no doubt about that.”
Despite the defeat at Bayview, results elsewhere meant Rovers will remain top of the table until this Saturday at least, when any outcome from the Forfar v East Fife match will see them knocked off top spot.
“It was an opportunity missed because of the other results,” McGlynn said.
“No one is really taking the league by storm at the minute.
“Everyone can see how tight it is, and it’s there for us to kick on.
“But we certainly can’t continue to lose the number of goals we are, and we need to start showing a level of consistency. We have done it – we have two clean sheets out of five – but we need to get that more regular.”
McGlynn will be forced into at least two changes for the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup tie against Falkirk at Stark’s Park this Saturday with Ross Matthews ruled out for at least seven weeks after suffering a broken cheekbone and fractured eye socket at Bayview, while Jamie Gullan is cup tied.
“It gives us an opportunity to compete against the League One favourites, who if the early indications are anything to go by, are maybe not going to get it all their own way, as many had predicted,” he said.
“We will be trying to win - it’s as simple as that. We may freshen things up a little but we don’t have loads of options.”
Lewis Vaughan is now back in full training and is “very close” to making his return, while Tony Dingwall is not far behind in his recovery.
McGlynn also confirmed that he is in talks with striker John Baird over a possible return to the club on a short term deal.
The scorer of the Ramsdens Cup final winner over Rangers in 2014 is currently in Australia but is returning to Scotland for a few months in mid-September.
McGlynn stated: “As soon as he gets back we’ll sit down with him and try to sort something out.
“He seems keen to come back here, but nothing is definite until we put pen to paper.”