Raith Rovers ready for Championship kick off after Betfred Cup drama

Hearts' Olly Lee and Lewis Vaughan during Tuesday's Betfred Cup match. (Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group)Hearts' Olly Lee and Lewis Vaughan during Tuesday's Betfred Cup match. (Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group)
Hearts' Olly Lee and Lewis Vaughan during Tuesday's Betfred Cup match. (Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group)
Raith Rovers assistant boss Paul Smith felt his side were denied a clear penalty during their 3-1 Betfred Cup defeat to Hearts on Tuesday night.

With the score at 2-1 to the Tynecastle side, a Dan Armstrong cross on 70 minutes hit the arm of Hearts defender Stephen Kingsley, but referee Craig Napier waved away the visitors’ claims, despite having awarded Hearts a first-minute penalty for the same offence.

Smith, standing in for team boss John McGlynn, said after the match he was convinced his side should have had a spot kick.

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"I thought it was a penalty at the time, and speaking to the players and to some of the people who have seen it on TV, they say it was definitely a handball,” he said.

“His hand was away from his body, and with the rules nowadays that should be a penalty kick.

“I think there's a bit of dispute about the first penalty that Hearts got, and if we had got ours, it could have made it 2-2 and that would have been game on.

“I think we were in charge of the game at that time.

"We were creating good chances and putting Hearts under pressure, then we lost the third when we were pushing for a second goal to take the game to penalties and left ourselves one on one.

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“But overall I thought our workrate and commitment was excellent, and in the second half we played some great football.”

Away from the penalty controversy, Smith said he was unhappy with what he called the “terrible start” made by his side in the capital.

"From our kick-off, we give a silly free kick away at the edge of our box, which is the last thing you want to do against Hearts.

“Then we pay the penalty for it, excuse the pun. It got us off to a really bad start, but we worked ourselves back into the game again and unfortunately gave another penalty away, so we come in at 2-0 down.

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“We decided at half-time, we would give it five or 10 minutes before changing our shape again.

“We then scored a great goal, and from there I thought we were the dominant team in the 20 minutes after we scored.”

After that defeat by Robbie Neilson’s Hearts, the team’s attention will now turn to Saturday and their league opener against Dick Campbell’s Arbroath, who will be the visitors at Stark’s Park.

Smith says he hopes his side can be at their best but admits he would settle for any kind of win.

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“We want to win and ideally we want to win with a good performance, but the most important thing is to start in the Championship with three points,” he told us.

“I'm sure Robbie will be saying the same. It's important to get those three points on the board, and that's what we'll be aiming to do.

“I've known Dick Campbell for many a year and he'll come down with his experienced team so we know we'll have to be at our best to get the three points.

Smith says he is hopeful that manager McGlynn will be in the dugout after having a stomach operation on Sunday.

“He’s recovering at home and if everything goes well, potentially he'll be back on Saturday,” Smith said.

”I've spoken to him and he's eager to get back.”