McKinnon slams pedestrian Rovers performance

Raith Rovers have lost four friendlies in a row
Raith Rovers have lost four friendlies in a row

East Fife 2 Raith Rovers 0

Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon was less than happy following his side’s 2-0 defeat to East Fife at Bayview this afternoon.

McKinnon slammed his players for a ‘pedestrian’ performance and warned them that they must raise their standards ahead of the new season.

“To be honest, I was pretty disappointed,” he said.

“We were very pedestrian. Everything was done too slow.

“There was no competitive edge to them and there was a slackness right through the whole team.

“We addressed it at half-time and expected them to come out better, but it was just maintained for the next 45.

“That’s below the standard that we’ve set, and I’ve let the guys know that.

“They are under no illusions of what is expected week in, week out.

“If they are not at it every game they’ll not be playing.

“So it’s up to the lads to raise their game, and I’m sure they will.”

McKinnon singled out striker Lewis Vaughan as the only Raith player to emerge from the game with credit.

“Everything we ask of Lewie right now, he’s doing it for us,” McKinnon said.

“I’m disappointed with the rest of them. There was an opportunity for guys to come in and put pressure on players, and they never really took it.

“It’s not good enough, but it’s only pre-season, and we’re on the back of three very tough games.

“People can read too much into pre-season. I’ve seen teams win all their games and get relegated.

“It’s performances we’re looking for and today we came up short.”

Rovers failure to score means they have only hit the net once in four pre-season defeats, albeit against mostly Premiership opposition.

“It’s not a concern,” McKinnon said. “We’ve been in good areas and the execution was poor.

“We probably should have had a couple of better finishes in the first half.

“We got into great areas in the second half but our final ball was pedestrian.

“That’s the reason we’ve not taken chances. Everything was done at three-quarter pace.”

McKinnon made six changes from the side that lost to Dundee in midweek, giving goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw his first outing of pre-season while teenagers Ross Matthews and David Bates also started for the first time under the new boss.

East Fife were only able to name four subs including one goalkeeper and two trialists, while Raith were missing strikers Mark Stewart and Craig Wighton through injury but still had 18 players stripped.

There was also a place in the starting 11 for trialist Jamie Masson, recently released from Aberdeen, who was deployed on the left wing before being replaced after an hour.

The hosts started on the front foot and Craig Murray was inches away from a 17th minute opener but Laidlaw’s touch took the effort inches wide.

It took Raith until 38 minutes to fashion a chance as Vaughan broke through the defence only to lob the ball over Ryan Goodfellow and onto the roof of the net.

Mitch Megginson should have done better on 42 minutes as Ross Callachan sent him through on goal, but the striker dithered and the chance was gone.

Raith enjoyed their best spell of the match just after half-time and Vaughan forced Goodfellow into a good save at his near post after a sharp turn created space for a shot.

Laidlaw made a superb save on 55 minutes, sprawling at the feet of Craig Sutherland to prevent a certain goal.

Raith’s lack of firepower up front was evident as they probed the East Fife defence without being able to make a breakthrough, and the hosts punished them in the closing stages with a quick-fire double.

On 86 minutes, ex-Raith striker Kevin Smith - the best player on the park - out-muscled Bates in the box and sent a thumping volley beyond Laidlaw.

East Fife made sure of the victory in the final minute as unmarked Jonathan Page bulleted home a header from Fraser Mullen’s corner kick.

Raith are next in action on Tuesday night when a Celtic XI visit Stark’s Park for the official naming of the Turnbull Hutton Stand.

East Fife: Goodfellow (Couser 60), Mullen, O’Kane, Mercer, Murray, Smith, Wilkie, Brown, Slattery (Trialist 45), MacGregor (Trialist 73), Page. Not used: Naysmith.

Raith Rovers: Laidlaw, Toshney, Petrie (McKeown 73), Bates, Benedictus, Matthews, Anderson, Callachan (McCord 66), Vaughan, Trialist (Craigen 60), Megginson. Not used: Cuthbert, Robertson, Ford, Court.