Raith boss Locke: We’ll keep trying to entertaining fans

Raith Rovers manager Gary Locke.
Raith Rovers manager Gary Locke.

Gary Locke has vowed to keep trying to entertain Raith Rovers fans following the team’s encouraging start to the Championship campaign.

Rovers fans chanted Locke’s name after his side came from two behind to claim a 2-2 draw against Dundee United at Tannadice on Saturday.

With 10 points from a possible 12, sitting second in the table, and playing an attractive brand of football, the Rovers boss is receiving plenty plaudits for the way his team have started the season.

Having endured a tough time at Kilmarnock, Locke is all too aware how things can change in football, but for now, he is delighted with the fans reaction.

“It’s great as a management team to hear that –you want the fans to like you – but I’m well aware that in three or four weeks time it could change,” he told the Press.

“It’s nice, but the most important thing for me is the team. It’s not about Gary Locke or Darren Jackson. We’re delighted with the start we’ve made.

“We had the open day on Sunday and speaking to a lot of the supporters, it’s not just the results, I think they are pleased with the way the team is trying to play - and that’s the way we’ll always try to play.

“We’ll always try to have a go and entertain the fans – and some weeks it won’t happen. Those are the weeks that I hope the fans will stick by us.

“We took huge numbers up to Tannadice, and at 2-0 down they could have easily turned on the team, but they stuck by us and it was great to see.

“As much as I’m humbled that they’ve sung my name, it’s not about me, it’s about the team. And the reason we’re doing well at the minute is because the players are doing well.”

While Raith were thoroughly deserving of their point at Tannadice, the opening 25 minutes, during which they fell 2-0 behind, were a concern for Locke.

“The first 25 minutes were certainly forgettable,” he said. “They looked a bit nervous, we stood off them and showed them too much respect, but once we settled and started to get a foothold in the game, especially in the second half, I was really pleased.

“They are a top team – I have no doubt they’ll be at the top end of the table – so for us to play as well as we did in the second half, I’m delighted.”

Rovers take a break from Championship duty this weekend when they return to Station Park in Forfar for the third time this season in the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup.

Back in June, Raith lost their opening friendly match 2-0 to Gary Bollan’s men on the artificial pitch, before returning a few weeks later to beat Cove Rangers in the Betfred Cup.

Locke has warned his player not to underestimate a Forfar side which has made a flying start in League Two, currently topping the table with a 100 per cent record.

“They’ve already beaten us in pre-season so it shows you what they are capable of, but if we go there with the right attitude, hopefully we can get the right result,” Locke said.

“We can’t think that because they are not a Championship team it will be easy, because it wont.

“They are top of their league for a reason, and they’ll be flying.”

Rovers will be forced into changes as midfielder Jordan Thompson, who is on duty with Northern Ireland U21s, has already featured in the competition for Rangers U20s.

Jason Thomson also misses out through suspsension following his red card in the defeat to Stenhousemuir in last season’s competition.

“We’ll have to make a couple of changes but we’ll go there with our strongest sqaud available to us and try to win the game,” Locke added.

Raith assistant Darren Jackson looks set to serve a one-match ban on Saturday after being sent to the stand at Tannadice.

Also missing out are a number of injured players including Craig Barr, Scott Robertson, Chris Johnston, Joel Coustrain, as well as goalkeepers Kevin Cuthbert and Aaron Lennox, although Cuthbert will once again fill a seat on the bench.

“The injury list is starting to grow a bit and that’s becoming a concern,” Locke added. “I hope we don’t pick up any more because we don’t have a strong enough squad to have six or seven missing.”

While there were no new arrivals at Stark’s Park on transfer deadline day on Wednesday, youngsters Jonny Court and David McKay were both sent on loan to Montrose until January.

Youth coach Craig Easton (37), was also registered as a player and is expected to feature alongside the youngsters in some Development League fixtures.