Raith boss considers January move for target man

Gary Locke, Raith Rovers manager
Gary Locke, Raith Rovers manager

Raith Rovers boss Gary Locke was delighted with the defensive display against Hibs on Saturday, but conceded that his team is lacking a physical presence up front.

Rovers kept their first clean sheet in eight games against the league leaders, who remained dangerous despite being reduced to 10 men shortly before half-time.

However, the Kirkcaldy side struggled to create chances against a strong Hibs rearguard, and Locke admitted that he would have liked the option of bringing on a target men to ruffle their feathers.

“I think we are a wee bit short of a number nine,” Locke told the Press.

“That’s one area of the team we could be doing with strengthening, but I’m well aware that the budget’s done, and we had to try to get in the players we could.

“We feel we’ve got a good squad, but it would be good to have to the option of a traditional number nine who you could throw on late in games when you’re looking to win a header or get a knock-down.

“It’s something we’ll hopefully have a look at in January.

“It will be difficult because we’ll have to move one or two on if we can to get somebody in.

“It’s not a big concern for me, it’s just to have a different option, because I think we’re a good footballing side, but sometimes you need to go back to front.”

After conceding 11 goals in the previous five games, Locke has been working hard on defensive organisation and he was pleased with that aspect of his side’s display against Hibs.

“With them being down to 10 men we’re a little disappointed, but when you look at the bigger picture, I thought we defended really well and there was loads of positives to takes against the title favourites,” he said.

“We have lost a few goals - and it’s something we’re working on in training.

“We want to be more solid at the back because if you keep clean sheets you’ve got a great chance of picking up points.

“I thought the boys who played at the back on Saturday were excellent.

“Davo went into right back, which is not his natural position, and did great, I thought it was McHattie’s best game for a number of weeks, and Bene, big Jean and Kevin in goals were different class.

“Defensively as a whole we played well. If you look at the quality Hibs have got in their squad, they’re always going to create chances against you, even with 10 men, but I thought we stood up to everything they had.”

Locke stressed that it will take a similarly disciplined defensive performance to take a positive result from Falkirk Stadium on Saturday against a side who have recovered from a slow start to take 16 points from the last 18 available.

“It’s another tough game but if you look at league there’s nothing bertween the teams,” he said.

“We just need to find that bit of consistency we’ve maybe been lacking the last few weeks. If we can find that again we’ll certainly be in a decent position.

“If you’ve got aspirations to be in the top four you’ve got to beat the teams you think will be around about you, and that includes Falkirk.”

Rovers fell out of the top four for the first time this season after Saturday’s draw but they reduced the gap to the top of the table to just four points.

Locke added: “I’ve not set too many targets - we know where we want to be around the end of the season - but at the moment, where we are in the league is a true refection on the way the season has went so far.

“If we can find consistency and get a couple of wins back-to-back you can put yourself right back up there again.”

Looking back on the Hibs game, Locke added the he felt his side should have had a penalty kick in an incident that resulted in Ross Callachan receiving a yellow card for diving.

“We’re a wee bit aggrieved that he gets booked for diving when it’s quite clearly not a dive,” he said. “It’s a blatant penalty but sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. It was a hard game to referee and I thought the referee handled it very well.”