Raith Rovers ready for derby season starter

Raith Rovers assistant manager Paul Smith hopes his team can take their good pre-season form into the Betfred Cup.
Raith Rovers assistant boss Paul SmithRaith Rovers assistant boss Paul Smith
Raith Rovers assistant boss Paul Smith

The Stark’s Park side played their final pre-season friendly last weekend before competitive action starts this Saturday, winning 5-0 away to Brechin City.

Smith says he was delighted with the display put in by an injury-hit squad.

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“It was a good result and a first-class performance,” he said.

Raith will kick off the new season with a cup clash against East FifeRaith will kick off the new season with a cup clash against East Fife
Raith will kick off the new season with a cup clash against East Fife

“The boys passed the ball around really well, were really slick and scored some great goals in difficult conditions.

“There was a lot of rainwater lying on the pitch, but we still passed it well, which is what we are looking to do.

“There were a lot of positives to take from the game.

“Over the years, we've had really good pre-seasons with great results, then not started the season well and vice versa, but we would rather get some good wins under our belt and play some good football.

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“The goals have been spread about, but it's great to see Manny Duku scoring.

“I think he's got four goals now. That's a big bonus.

“His confidence will be up, and hopefully he can get off to a good start come East Fife on Saturday.”

The Fifers will arrive at Stark’s Park for the start of the season proper for a group A North Betfred Cup tie.

Smith is in charge of first-team affairs this week as manager John McGlynn recovers from a stomach illness.

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“I think it's coming up to seven months without a proper game, and to start with a derby against East Fife is a great one,” he said.

“It's just unfortunate for both sets of fans that they're not able to come to the game.”

Smith says Rovers’ mana gement have talked to the squad about the unusual situation of playing to an empty stadium but thinks his players are beginning to adapt to the new football normal.

"We touched on it as we've been trying to cover all the bases over the last six or seven weeks,” said the 57-year-old.

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"I think the players have started to get used to it over the five pre-season games without the fans.

“It's difficult, it's different, but it's the same for both teams so I think we've just got to get on with it.

"We're still getting the same buzz leading up to the match. It's a derby. East Fife will be coming here to make it very difficult for us, so we've got to be right up for that.

"It's just a disappointment that the fans won't be there, but hopefully they will be back as soon as possible.”

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Though the aim for the season ahead is undoubtedly to establish the club in the Championship, Smith says that the Betfred Cup is a competition that they will take seriously.

"Hearts will be the favourites to win the group, and they’re the red- hot favourites to win the Championship too.”

He added: “The group is a difficult one.

"You’ve got East Fife, Cowdenbeath – two derbies – and Inverness in there too, but we’ll go into it and give it our best shot.”