Raith Rovers: Midfielder Sam Stanton excited by prospect of facing Scottish Cup holders Rangers at Ibrox this Sunday

Having scored as Raith Rovers saw off Premiership side Motherwell 3-1 at home in the previous round, midfield ace Sam Stanton and his mates are preparing for what is likely to be an altogether tougher challenge in this Sunday’s away Scottish Cup quarter-final against holders Rangers at Ibrox Stadium, kick-off 1pm.
Sam Stanton celebrates scoring in 3-1 home win over Motherwell in Scottish Cup fifth round (Pic Fife Photo Agency)Sam Stanton celebrates scoring in 3-1 home win over Motherwell in Scottish Cup fifth round (Pic Fife Photo Agency)
Sam Stanton celebrates scoring in 3-1 home win over Motherwell in Scottish Cup fifth round (Pic Fife Photo Agency)

Ian Murray’s Rovers – rated as high as 25/1 to win in 90 minutes in Govan – would stun the football world by knocking out Michael Beale’s star studded line-up.

"We’re definitely excited by this weekend’s game,” former Dundalk player Stanton, 28, told the Fife Free Press. “Ibrox is one of the best places you can play football in Scotland so we’re all really looking forward to it.

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"We’ve worked really hard to get here in the first place so it will be a good day for us all.

"We know how difficult it’s going to be playing Rangers away from home.

"It’s going to be tough but you never know what can happen in football and we will go there and give it our best shot.

"It was a good result in the last round and it was nice to beat Premiership opposition so we have earned the right to be here. I’ve played at Ibrox a few times and I don’t think my record there is very good at all. But that’s like most people in Scotland.

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"Everyone knows how difficult it is when you go there and Celtic Park as well with the quality of teams that they have.

"But upsets have happened before and you just never know. We’ve got nothing to lose.”

Raith go into the Rangers clash having seen their recent long unbeaten run ended at 14 matches following last Saturday’s 3-0 Championship reverse at a resurgent Partick Thistle outfit.

Without injured skipper Scott Brown, Raith struggled with Stanton having to play in three different positions including as a holding midfielder, attacking midfielder and up front.

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“Scott Brown was a miss because I think we’d had quite a settled team for a while,” Stanton said. "Having him and Brad Spencer in there, they’ve built up a good relationship with me in front and obviously we had to change it around a bit with Scott being out the team.

"That could have had something to do with our performance but we still should have done better with the players we had on the park.

"But we had decent opportunities and I think we started the game quite well which was the sort of strange thing.

“It’s hard to put a finger on why we were below par. Credit firstly to them as well, Partick played really well on the day, they’ve been on a good run and they’re starting to pick up at the right time.

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"We also ended it quite well but in the middle part of the game we just didn’t seem our usual selves. I don’t know why that was.

"But we had been on such a long run, it’s bound to eventually happen at some stage.

"We just need to move on from it and get over it. It was nice to go on a long unbeaten run but now we need to go on another run as soon as we possibly can."

The prospect of starting another run could hardly be tougher at the home of one of Scotland's big two.

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But Stanton, whose girlfriend Mhairi is expecting their first child together in late April, is hopeful that the underdogs’ extra adrenaline could help them produce a major shock.

"Maybe sometimes it can be a bit easier to play at your best when there’s no pressure on you,” he said.

"We’ll just go there and enjoy it.”

There was certainly enjoyment aplenty for Stanton’s then Hibs team-mates seven years ago, when the Edinburgh side saw off Rangers 3-2 at Hampden Park to win the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years.

"I watched that game in the stand,” said Stanton, who had spent the second half of that season on loan at Livingston. “It was great, a brilliant day for the football club.

"It was a long time coming and Hibs had so many supporters there.”