Barry Smith refused to be ‘over critical’ of his Raith Rovers players after Tuesday’s disappointing showing against Ayr United at Somerset Park.
Raith stumbled to a 3-0 defeat at the home of their League One title rivals, but the biggest concern for travelling fans was the manner of the performance, which left a lot to be desired.
However, Smith, while accepting that the team under-performed in a key game, insisted that the positives from the campaign to date should also be taken into consideration.
“The boys know that they could do a whole lot better,” the manager said.
“They’ve done very well up until now and I think it would be wrong to be over critical.
“They are disappointed with their performance in there, which shows the type that they are, and it’s all about reactions now after that.”
Despite injury problems in defence, which again meant midfielder Scott Robertson deputising at the back, Smith set his team up to attack Ayr, playing a 4-4-2 with two strikers and two wingers.
He felt things were looking promising for his side up until Ayr’s opener in the 16th minute, a blow from which Rovers never recovered.
“I actually thought we started the game better, and they scored when we had a wee bit of the play,” he said.
“We didn’t really recover when they scored, which isn’t like us. We never really got a grip of the game after that.
“We huffed and puffed in the second half but when it comes down to it I don’t think we deserved to take anything from the game.”
With both Iain Davidson and Kyle Benedictus injured, Smith admitted that selection problems at the back may have been a factor in a bad night for Raith.
“Ayr’s movement up front is very good, and it’s not been easy when you lose your captain to a broken leg, and then Iain Davidson to a problem with an injury.
“So Scott Robertson has stepped in and did excellent, but it’s always difficult when it’s not your prime position.”
After a recent form dip, Raith take a welcome break from the league this Saturday when they travel to Peterhead in the Scottish Cup third round.
The home side are going well in League Two, where they currently sit third, but Raith will be expecting to reach round four, when the big guns from the Premiership enter the draw.
“They’ve got a very exprienced team and we’ll have to make sure we put in a better performance than Tuesday night,” Smith said.
“It doesn’t matter that it’s the Scottish Cup. A game’s a game, and we just want to win the next game.”
After Saturday’s tie Raith return to league duty with back-to-back home games against Queen’s Park and Alloa Athletic.
In a message to the fans who travelled to Ayr in good numbers midweek, Smith added: “We thank them for their support. Nothing’s won in November so keep following us, and sticking by us, and we’ll be there at the end.”
Meanwhile, the Raith Club Shop is stocking up on Christmas merchandise.
Orders can be placed online at raithrovers.net/shop or at the main office at Stark’s Park.