Raith Rovers to rest players as play-offs take priority over league finish

Raith will rest some players for Saturday's trip to Montrose. Pic: George McLuskie
Raith will rest some players for Saturday's trip to Montrose. Pic: George McLuskie

Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn is prepared to sacrifice second place in League One to focus on winning promotion to the Championship.

Rovers travel to Montrose on Saturday for the final league game of the season sitting third in the table, one point behind Forfar Athletic, who they will face in the play-off semi-finals next week.

There is an extra £20,000 in prize money for the league runners-up, as well as the chance to secure home advantage for the second leg of the play-off.

Should Raith better Forfar’s result on Saturday – the Angus side are away to East Fife – they would reclaim second spot.

However, McGlynn admits he is not prepared to risk his strongest 11 ahead of the crucial midweek play-off first leg.

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“We need to be very careful with the players,” he said.

“It’s not just a matter of playing our strongest team because the midweek game becomes really important.

“Yes, we want to finish second, and we’ll try to, but the bigger picture is giving ourselves the best chance to get to the Championship by getting through the play-offs.

“That will be by making sure we’ve got players that are fit and fresh enough to give their all in midweek.”

McGlynn has particular concerns over the astroturf pitches at both Montrose and Forfar, and the possible impact on his players’ fitness over two games in quick succession.

“Going from the hard astro at Montrose, straight into a similar surface at Forfar, we would need to be careful with one or two players,” he said.

“We could be at home on Tuesday, which is a better surface, but it’s a balancing act with the players that might have a reaction and couldn’t give their all again on another astroturf a few days later.”

At full-time on Saturday all attention will turn to the Championship play-offs with the first leg of Rovers’ semi-final due to take place either on Tuesday at Stark’s Park, should they finish third, or on Wednesday at Station Park, should Forfar finish third.

Raith will be hoping to reverse a trend that has seen them lose all six of their previous play-off ties to date, and McGlynn is no doubt over what it will take.

“We’ve got to fight and scratch, and be prepared to battle all the way,” he said.

“We’ve shown on our day in big games – like against Dunfermline in the Scottish Cup – that we can achieve a high level of performance under pressure. We’ll be as prepared as we can be, and ready for it.”

Injured midfielder Tony Dingwall will play no part in the play-offs but winger Nathan Flanagan could still return in time for the second tie if Rovers make it through.