Bragging rights and a place at the top of League One are up for grabs in an eagerly anticipated derby showdown at Stark’s Park this Saturday.
One goal is all that separates league leaders Raith Rovers from second placed East Fife with the rivals locked together on 20 points.
Both are protecting unbeaten records, with Rovers seven-game stretch bettered by the Methil men, who are the only side in Scotland yet to lose a league game this season.
With the chance to set down an early title marker, and Rovers keen to avenge a 4-2 defeat at Bayview in August, it has all the makings of a derby classic.
Raith manager John McGlynn told the Press: “As much as it’s a big game for all the players and fans, it won’t decide a league title at this stage.
“But we’re at home, and we certainly want to take advantage of that to get a gap again between ourselves and East Fife, and hopefully Falkirk. We want to get the upper hand after the defeat at Methil so it’s up to us to do the business.”
Like everyone else, McGlynn has been impressed with East Fife’s start to the season, and accepts that they are going to be a stiff promotion rival.
“There’s absolutely no doubt about that,” he said. “You’ve got to give the greatest respect to East Fife.
“They’ve definitely got something about them, but we’ve got our own run to protect and we want to keep that going. That was part of why the guys dug in on Saturday to at least make sure we got a draw from the game.
“It showed a strong mentality to keep going right to the end.
“We want to keep momentum building and confidence growing, and without stating the obvious, it’d be nice to start getting some players back to give us a better chance to do that.”
Having been without eight injured players for the 2-2 draw at Clyde, Rovers will also be without the suspended Steven Anderson this Saturday after the defender picked up a red card in the game.
“It’s a blow because anyone who follows the Rovers can see that Steven’s made a big impact in the team, and on the players directly round about him,” McGlynn said.
Striker Lewis Allan is likely to miss out again as he awaits a scan to determine the extent of a knee injury picked up in the closing stages of the Challenge Cup win over Glenavon.
Also ruled out of the derby are Grant Anderson and Joao Victoria, but Dave McKay, Ross Matthews and Jack Smith are all improving and could return to the squad.
McGlynn added: “I couldn’t see any of our competitors, and I include Arbroath last year, trying to keep things going with the number of injuries we’ve had – and to such influential players.”