Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn 'excited' by play-off challenge

Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn. Pic: George McLuskie
Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn. Pic: George McLuskie

Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn has told his players to embrace the pressure of the promotion play-offs.

Rovers go into the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final against Forfar Athletic at Stark's Park tonight, kick-off 7.45 p.m, hoping to take a positive result into the second leg at Station Park on Saturday.

"We're very much excited about the situation and we think we've got a good chance," McGlynn said.

"Throughout the season everyone has been given an opportunity to play and we've won and lost with the same players.

"That all goes behind us now and we just go need to go out and really savour the moment. Don't be scared or frightened of it.

"Let's savour the fact we're going to play in front of a big crowd, and that we've got an opportunity to go into the Championship.

"The play-offs have given us a lifeline so let's try and make the most of it."

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Rovers have known their play-off fate for some time, which gives McGlynn's players an advantage over last season's squad, who were unable to overcome the disappointment of losing the league title just a few days before facing Alloa.

"We've been in this frame of mind for a while," he said.

"It's not necessarily what we set our sights on, but it was always going to be a fall back if we couldn't win the league.

"With Arbroath having such a substantial cushion it's been facing us for some time.

"There was no last day swing from winning the league to not winning the league, then finding yourself playing a game a few days later with a negative energy.

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"We also go in as third place team, which is different to the last couple of years when Rovers ended up going away from home in the first leg, and having to dig something out in the second leg, which hasn't materialised.

"Potentially there's more pressure on you in the second game at home because the expectation level is higher.

"It's different, but we're comfortable with the situation. We've planned and prepared and I think we're ready.

"We have plan A, plan B and plan C all in place if we need to turn to them."

With a big crowd expected at Stark's Park tonight, McGlynn also issued a rallying cry to supporters to stick with the team throughout the 90 minutes of the first leg.

"We certainly need the fans to be onside and backing the team," he said.

"We've got some young players who will need every bit of support, and for some it will be their first taste of play-off games.

"It's a good pressure. If you're fighting relegation it's a different proposition, but we've got a lot to gain."

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Having finished three points worse off, and taken just one point from their three previous meetings, the Raith boss expects a difficult challenge from Forfar.

"Forfar have finished above us so that tells you they are good side," he said. "We'll need to be patient - and that's everyone.

"You have to come expecting it to be a tight game, but one we're more than capable of winning.

"In every game we've played Forfar we've created chances. We haven't taken them and been punished.

"We have to make sure over two games we continue to create chances, try to take more than them, and have one goal more than them after two legs.

"What happened in the league is done - now it's two cup ties. Home and away, over two legs, who is going to produce the best?

"I'm comfortable with that. There's a nice feeling about our team, and I'm excited about the prospect of these games."

Rovers hope Chris Duggan will make the squad after missing the weekend draw with Montrose with a minor calf strain.

Aside from long-term absentees Lewis Vaughan, Robbie Thomson and Tony Dingwall, everyone else is available for selection.