Raith Rovers: Treading a fine line on back-to-back visits to Aberdeen

Two trips to Aberdeen within a week await Ian Murray’s Raith Rovers’ side as the start of the league campaign shifts into view, alongside the next stages of the Premier Sports Cup.

By Ralph Mellon
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 11:47 am
Updated Friday, 22nd July 2022, 11:47 am
Ethan Ross prepares to unleash an effort with Dumbarton's Finlay Gray in pursuit (picture by Dave Johnston / Alba PIctures)
Ethan Ross prepares to unleash an effort with Dumbarton's Finlay Gray in pursuit (picture by Dave Johnston / Alba PIctures)

The 2022-23 Championship curtain-raiser at Cove Rangers on July 30 will be on manager Murray’s mind as his troops bid this weekend to overcome Aberdeen in the League Cup competition.Rovers visit Pittodrie on Sunday (July 24), realistically needing a win for a chance of progressing, and having delivered a far superior display on Tuesday night at Dumbarton than the previous weekend against Stirling Albion.The 90-minute scoreline was a draw in both cases but Raith won the penalty decider against in the most recent match against Stevie Farrell’s crew.“It was a definite improvement from Saturday, which was good,” said Murray.

“We lacked a bit of cutting edge at the top of the park but our general play was good.

"Our structure, most of the time, was good and, on another night, we might have won by a couple of goals."So we are disappointed not to take three points, which would have been great, but we have to look at other things within that, not be too hard on ourselves and keep the confidence high.”Murray said the next two games were a tricky balance.

“We want to respect the cup and give a good account of ourselves against a really good top league team," he said. "But we need to have half an eye on Cove Rangers the following week, to the extent we have to be careful with giving players the best opportunity to recover and rest.

"We have asked some of these guys to play in every single pre-season game so far and a wee rest for some will do them no harm," he added.

"But we don't want to be too detrimental to the afternoon because you never know in football - you could go up there and get a reuslt and, suddenly, you're in the mix for the next round of the cup.

"But we also have to have the reality of it and we do need to win the game probably to have any chance."

Murray hinted some of the younger players may get an opportunity, having done very well when they had come on in previous games.

"Sometimes, a bit of fullness and energy, especially against these teams, can be good," he said.

"No fear can help you but we also don't want to throw them into the lions' den and for their confidence to be knocked.

"The biggest thing is getting through it unscathed injury wise so we are all fully charged and ready to go to Cove on opening day which, at the moment, is a very big game for us.”

Sunday's cup match at Pittodrie meant Rovers were at a slight disadvantage for the start of the league campaign, having a day less to recover before heading to the Granite City again on Saturday to play Cove Rangers, and with players who had already been working hard.

However, they had to abide by the format and he said he would, at the same time, enjoy the occasion of his squad going up against a really good club in a really good stadium.

Both clubs had new managers and a handful of new players, while Rovers knocked Aberdeen out of the tournament last year.

"It was a sore one for Aberdeen last season, getting knocked out down at Stark's Park," recalled Murray.

"There are new managers on both sides and new players – a big turnaround on Aberdeen's side.

"We will try and emulate last year but we also understand the damage Aberdeen can cause you when they click and they are a very good side. They have a good manager (Jim Goodwin) with really good players.

"They have brought in a few million with their sell-on players and they have also recruited to what looks like a fairly decent level, so it will be a very, very tough game.

"We just need to give a good account of ourselves and football is a funny game – you just never know."