Raith Rovers are in a good place and happy to be there, says boss John McGlynn

Raith Rovers were approaching the end of the season’s first half in a good place – and the trick was simply to try and keep it going.

By Ralph Mellon
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 2:40 pm
John McGlynn (picture by Scott Louden)
John McGlynn (picture by Scott Louden)

Manager John McGlynn had a positive feeling about his side’s fortunes thus far, with Rovers on 33 points from 17 games, just one behind Scottish Championship leaders Inverness Caledonian Thistle, and undefeated in 15 games.

Victory in the concluding game of the second quarter against Partick Thistle this Saturday at Firhill could put Raith on top of the table for Christmas if Caley Thistle and Arbroath also drop points, but McGlynn was not looking too far in front.

“Every game is a test and a challenge, so we just go with the next one and try to do our best in every game,” he said.

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"We are obviously on a good run – the boys are confident, there is a good spirit, and they are working hard for each other and fighting for each other.

“I think we have had an excellent first half of the season, both with cup ties and in the league, so I think we are in a good place and happy to be where we are.”

The Raith playing squad received a double boost this week with the news that defender Frankie Musonda had signed until the end of the season, while former Hibs and Dundee United midfielder Sam Stanton had joined the Raith ranks on a 30-month agreement.

On Saturday, Partick Thistle slipped back to fifth spot after a 2-0 home loss to Arbroath fractured their run of eight clean sheets and 10 matches without defeat.

McGlynn knew Firhill would represent a tricky journey and Thistle would want to make amends – but Raith were in good spirits.

“We’ll be trying to hold on to our record and extend it as far a we possibly can and enter the festive period on a high,” he said.

“But we take one game at a time – you can’t look too far ahead. You just go to the next game, try and do your best and win it, and take it from there.”

A slim victory over Kilmarnock thanks to a second-half penalty on Saturday had extended Rovers’ undefeated sequence to 15 games.

“Kilmarnock have just come down from the Premier League – they have a Premier League budget and they have good players – so we anticipated it would be hard,” said McGlynn.

“But there are absolutely no easy games, whether you play teams at the top or the bottom of the league – someone is always fighting for something,” said McGlynn. “Again, I think our guys have responded remarkably well, so we try to keep it going. That is the trick now, to keep it going.”

The Raith manager said the win was probably merited “for spirit, camaraderie, work, attitude, fighting, blocking shots, defending and the art of defending. We did all that very well.”

He added: “Our last two performances have not been great but I thought we passed the ball better on Saturday. We were back more like ourselves.”

Player of the match awards went to two Raith rearguard men – Christophe Berra and Tom Lang – and McGlynn highly commended them both.

He said Berra, who had two spells with Hearts and was with Wolves and Ipswich Town, as well as playing over 40 times for Scotland, was the defensive equivalent of a striker like John Robertson being in the right place at the right time.

“He blocks things, he clears things, he gets his head to things defensively in our box and that is how you get clean sheets. We have three in a row now. His experience is invaluable to the team. Defensively, we are much better this year because of Christophe Berra. He helps Tom, he helps Kyle Benedictus and the full backs as well.

“Tom has great commitment – he wins things, he is sharp and he is bright. He went on a couple of runs with the ball on Saturday and actually did very well.

"He’s got great desire and he is a winner. You need them in your defence.”