Dougie makes a case for improved Raith defence

Dougie Hill leaps between Martin Scott and Liam Buchanan to win the ball during Saturday's goalless draw with Alloa. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Dougie Hill leaps between Martin Scott and Liam Buchanan to win the ball during Saturday's goalless draw with Alloa. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
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Dougie Hill reckons Raith Rovers are feeling more confident about themselves now that they are defending better.

Rovers had one of the worst defensive records in the Championship before Christmas, but a run of three clean sheets in four games has helped deliver 10 points from the last 12 available.

Hill’s return to the Rovers line-up has coincided with the improvement in form, and he was excellent on Saturday as Rovers ground out a 0-0 draw with Alloa.

“I thought the back four especially defended really well,” he said. “We lost the ball in bad areas, trying to play in our half on a surface that isn’t great, instead of doing what they were doing, which was getting the ball up the park as quickly as possible.

“The way we played we’ll probably take a point, but we know ourselves we should be playing better than that, and we should have caused them more problems. But on the balance of play, we have to be happy with a draw.”

Hill’s part-time status means he only trains once a week with Rovers, training on his own and with Newtongrange Juniors to keep fit.

But that has not prevented the 30-year-old plumber from keeping full-time players out of the line-up.

“Since I came back I probably needed two or three games as a pre-season,” he explained. “I hadn’t played in seven months, now that I’ve got that I feel match-sharp and I trust the guys I’m playing with.”

Hill’s team mates have also felt the benefit from his return to the first team, none more so than Rory McKeown, who is blossoming after a tough start.

“People forget how young Rory is,” Hill said. “I just try to help him and keep him as close to me as possible so he’s a defender first and foremost.

“He is a good defender, but from watching when I was injured, I think he just wanted to get forward too much.

“You just have to get the reins on him a wee bit and he’s great to play with. He covers me and he’s got great pace.”

Hill is now looking forward to pitting his wits against a Hibs side that has gone seven games unbeaten.

“We’re a lot more confident now and turning up to games believing we’ll beat teams - which is a good feeling,” Hill said. “Hibs are a good team but we’ve played them twice and we’ve nothing to fear.”

Hill believes that keeping another clean sheet will be the key to a victory at Easter Road.

“If we can keep it tight at the back, nine times out of 10 we’ll get a goal,” he said.

“Earlier in season we were killing ourselves, losing games in the first half and losing too many goals first.

“We weren’t scoring the first goal, which is massive in this league.

“We’ve steadied the ship, I don’t think we look like losing goals, and I feel there’s a confidence back in the boys now.”