Raith Rovers look to keep good form going at Inverness

Paul Smith says he is happy with the form Raith Rovers showed in the Betfred Cup despite going out of the competition.
Ethan Ross is fouled against Saturday's opponents Inverness in last week's 3-3 Betfred Cup draw (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Ethan Ross is fouled against Saturday's opponents Inverness in last week's 3-3 Betfred Cup draw (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Ethan Ross is fouled against Saturday's opponents Inverness in last week's 3-3 Betfred Cup draw (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Rovers’ last game in group A came at Central Park last Saturday against Cowdenbeath, when a Manny Duku goal was enough to win the Fife derby, b ut the Kirkcaldy side’s impressive eight points weren’t enough to see them through to the knock out stages, with just one loss to group winners Hearts in the four games played.

Assistant boss Smith said: “I think even if we had got to nine points, we might have come up short with the goal difference.

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“We're disappointed, but it was a very difficult section. Hearts were in there, Inverness and two local derbies.

“If you look over the course of it, all the games were very tight. Hearts were our only loss, and if you look back at that game, at 2-1 we should have had a stonewall penalty.

“It's fine margins in games. We would have loved to have gone through, but we've just missed out.”

Though the 1-0 win over the Blue Brazil didn’t count in the end, Smith says he’s delighted to be able to keep the club’s unbeaten run going.

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"I’m happy with the win. I t keeps up our momentum and good form.

“We always knew it was going to be a difficult game. I t wasn't going to be a classic passing one, and it turned out that way.

“We had to show a different side, and over the 90 minutes I thought we deserved to win the game.

"In the first half, we were well on top, though there weren't a great amount of chances for either side.

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“It's never easy going to Central Park so I'm delighted to keep the winning run going.”

Smith now takes his side on the long journey north to face Betfred Cup opponents Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday, just 11 days after the two sides fought out an enthralling 3-3 draw at Stark’s Park.

“Inverness have done fantastically well in the Championship over the past few years,” he said.

“They've always finished up at the top end of the table and they will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.

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"I think they're carrying a few injuries like ourselves, but they've got a big squad so they can carry that.”

Smith reports good news on Rovers’ own injury front, with a number of first-team regulars pushing to return to the squad for Saturday.

"Gozie Ugwu trained over the weekend, then joined in on Monday for the first time, so hopefully he can train the full week without any setbacks,” he said. “If he can, he'll be in the squad for Saturday.

“Kieran MacDonald has been back in light training so we'll see if we can step that up over the week.

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“Kyle Benedictus was suspended for Saturday but he's been carrying a wee injury so it will have done him the world of good to have missed it to let that settle down. He'll be back training too.

He added: “We've got Lars Lokotsch to come back in after being cup-tied.”

One player who has suffered a setback in his injury battle, however, is striker Lewis Vaughan.

Smith said: “He went for a couple of injections which they were hoping would clear up the scar tissue that he has on his hamstring as a result of his ACL operation.

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"Unfortunately it's not cleared up enough for him to train at 100 per cent and come back and play so he's going for a tidy up operation next Friday.

“His knee is fine, it's just his hamstring, but he'll need six to eight weeks recovery time after it, so fingers crossed he'll be good to go around mid-January.”