Raith Rovers in danger of becoming the third force in Fife

Aaron Dunsmore tracked by Raith defender Kieran MacDonald. Pic: Kenny Mackay
Aaron Dunsmore tracked by Raith defender Kieran MacDonald. Pic: Kenny Mackay

Shaughan McGuigan is an avid Raith Rovers fan and panellist on the football programme, A View From The Terrace, returning soon to BBC Scotland.

Fifteen years ago, Claude Anelka pitched up at Pratt Street, claiming that Raith Rovers would soon be the third force.

Shaughan McGuigan. View from a Terrace

Shaughan McGuigan. View from a Terrace

Based on the evidence of Saturday, they finally are, but only in the Kingdom of Fife rather than the nation as a whole.

Okay, so Raith struggled against Darren Young’s team last term as well and still finished 14 points above them, but there’s no disguising the fact they were a distant second best during Saturday’s chastening 4-2 defeat.

The hope going into this season was that Rovers exceptional home form of recent years would be sustained, while the wretched struggles on the road could be turned around, but wearily, nothing much appears to have changed.

The loss at Stranraer could be mitigated to a degree in that Rovers were arguably the better side and unfortunate to lose, but misfortune had no part to play in this latest capitulation.

Taking the lead, losing it, and then spending whatever time remains desperately trying to get back into the game has been pretty much a regular occurrence for Raith since slipping into League One, and unless that changes, then League One is where they’ll be for some time.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to be said for high scoring games, and when Rovers are involved you’re virtually guaranteed them.

Last season’s 36 league games produced 122 goals, and this campaign is well on track to finish with an even higher figure, but it would be nice if they stopped whizzing past David McGurn at such an alarming rate of knots.

An inability to defend set-pieces has been an ongoing concern for what feels like forever, which, when combined with a susceptibility to conceding on the counter, screams of a problem with organisation.Despite being a forward, the return of Lewis Vaughan should help a little, but Rovers entire approach to games away from home has to change.

Winning 13 out of a possible 39 matches on the road is a meagre return for a side which has either been completely or mostly full-time while participating in a part-time league, and with the budget apparently used up, John McGlynn will have to find a solution from within.

With that in mind, perhaps the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup tie has come at just the right time. Generally, a Challenge Cup fixture is seen as a bit of a hindrance, but an encounter against Falkirk where points aren’t at stake, gives a chance for personnel to be tried and tactics to be tweaked in a relatively pressure free environment.

You’d imagine that fringe players will get a run out, and presumably Fernandy Mendy will play at least some part in the proceedings, with the central defender a peripheral figure since the League Cup campaign.

A morale boosting win would be pleasant, as would a hint that the team has stumbled upon a new found defensive stability.

Even if that doesn’t materialise, Rovers fans at least have the fall back option of booing Ray McKinnon.