Good start to league campaign is vital for Raith

Raith skipper Jason Thomson clears a Dunfermline attack in the midweek cup defeat at East End Park. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Raith skipper Jason Thomson clears a Dunfermline attack in the midweek cup defeat at East End Park. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
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Raith Rovers will start a new league campaign on Saturday amidst murmerings of discontent following the midweek derby defeat.

A section of supporters have been venting their frustration at manager Grant Murray and the team following the 1-0 loss at East End Park which saw the holders knocked out the Petrofac Training Cup at the first hurdle.

The performance was in keeping with the dreadful form displayed in the second half of last season, despite a line-up containing seven new signings.

This season’s Championship is the most eagerly anticipated in years with the inclusion of Rangers, Hearts and Hibs helping to spark Raith’s highest season ticket sales in two decades.

But with only six wins so far in 2014, it is vitally important that Rovers get off to a good start at home to Dumbarton on Saturday.

Club captain Jason Thomson admitted the players are aware of the negativity among some fans, but insisted they will get on with the job.

“It’s not nice to play in an atmosphere when stuff like that is going on,” he told the Press.

“But I’m not going to use that as an excuse.

“I need to be big enough - and I think I am - and the boys need to be big enough to take it on the chin.

“Fans pay their money and are entitled to their opinion.

“Whether I share the same opinion or not probably doesn’t matter.

“If you can’t take a bit of criticism you maybe need to get another job.

“Every club gets stick from fans - you just need to block it out.

“We took a great support to Dunfermline on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we can repay them with a couple of wins in the league.”

The current mood at Stark’s Park is in contrast to the euphoria of April when Thomson skippered Raith to Challenge Cup glory.

“I lifted the cup last year so I was gutted to go out in the first round,” he said.

“You don’t want to lose any game, but especially a derby in a cup that we’re the reigning champions of.

“It’s a tough one to take. I put everything into it. I’ve been involved in a few derbies now and I know what they mean to the fans.

“It would be good if another one came up this season so we can maybe redeem ourselves a bit.”

Thomson insists the players will lift themselves for Saturday’s league opener.

“It’s the start of a new season and it’s going to be an exciting league,” he said.

“If we go out feeling sorry for ourselves things will just keep going on and on.

“We’ll pick ourselves up and work on a few things over the next couple of days.

“Dumbarton were one of the better teams last seaon so we have our work cut out.

“We lost a few key players this summer but we’ve brought in more quality.

“We’re carrying a couple of injuries but that’s no excuse.

“The boys on the field should be able to perform and get wins.”

Injured defender Dougie Hill is set to undergo a groin operation next week and could face another six weeks on the sidelines.

Hill has not taken part in any pre-season training having struggled to shake off an injury held over from last season.

New arrival Craig Barr is another who is currently on the treatment table, along with midfielder Kevin Moon, and both are unlikely to feature against Dumbarton.

Grant Anderson and Calum Elliot return to the squad after serving a suspension in the Petrofac Training Cup defeat at Dunfermline.