Raith Rovers striker Declan McManus gave himself a much-needed confidence boost after scoring his first league goal since October in the midweek defeat to Hibs.
McManus admits himself that he has been a shadow of the player he hoped to be at Stark’s Park this season after enduring a long barren run in front of goal.
The loan striker’s work-rate for the side has never been in question, but he looked back to his best at Easter Road after firing home his sixth of the season and was unlucky not to score another after hitting the post.
With some self-belief starting to return, the 22-year-old hopes to play a crucial role in helping the club avoid relegation.
“That’s probably the first time that Raith Rovers fans have seen me how I know I can play,” McManus explained.
“That’s probably due to getting a goal and playing with that bit of confidence again.
“It’s been building. I’ve been feeling better recently with the new manager, and hopefully I can take that into Saturday as well and perform the same way I did in the second half, and the same goes for the rest of the boys.”
After a confident start to the season, McManus admitted that he has had to battle his own demons as the club slipped down the table into the relegation mire.
“For me, football is 90 per cent confidence,” he said. “When I’m confident I know how well I can play and how much I can affect a game.
“But if I’m honest I’ve not been confident, and most of the boys are probably the same, with the situation we’re in.
“It’s hard to be at your best when you’re under a lot of pressure and things just don’t seem to drop for you.
“Personally I’ll take a lot of confidence from how I played against Hibs, and getting a goal.
“I’m just hoping we can replicate the second half performance in the last two games.”
While admitting that Wednesday’s defeat was a ‘sickener’, the 22-year-old stressed that it will not affect Raith’s preparation for tomorrow’s crucial match at St Mirren.
“We have to put it behind us, especially with what’s riding on Saturday’s game,” he said.
“If we win we’re safe, so Wednesday night is now irrelevant.
“After the game and waking up the next morning we were still a bit gutted about how it panned out.
“But it’s on to Saturday now, and the incentive is win and we’re safe, and then we can enjoy the last game of the season without any pressure.
“It should never have got to this point but we’re in it now.
“We’ve just got to go out on Saturday and play like we did in the second half against Hibs, and we’ll be alright.”
McManus is on loan from Fleetwood Town, who are currently battling for promotion to the English Championship, and he admits that his future is currently uncertain.
“I’ve got a year option at Fleetwood but I’ve still to speak to them about taking that or not,” he said.
“It’s coming into the last few games of the season and I’ve not sorted anything yet so obviously it’s in my head, but right now it’s last on the list.
“Top of the list is making sure Raith are safe next season and making sure I’ve not got a relegation on my CV.
“All that matters is keeping the team up and making sure when I leave at the end of the season that my mates aren’t in League One.”