Raith boss plotting a historic win at Celtic Park

Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon -  Credit - Fife Photo Agency -
Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon - Credit - Fife Photo Agency -

Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon will hope to create history when he takes his team to Parkhead in the last 16 of the League Cup tonight.

Rovers have not beaten Celtic on their own patch in 53 years, since a 1-0 victory in the old First Division in 1962, although you only have to go back 21 years for the famous League Cup final win at Ibrox.

Rovers last visit to Celtic Park came in the same stage of the competition in 2012 when Grant Murray’s side were on the wrong end of a 4-1 defeat.

McKinnon hopes Raith can cause a major upset on this occasion and reach the quarter-finals, however, he knows the size of the task facing his side.

“You look at what they did to Dundee on Sunday - it could’ve been 12,” McKinnon said.

“If they get into a rhythm and get an early goal then it will be a tough night for us, so we need to be really organised and defend well, and I think we will.

“The way we set up will make it difficult for them and if we play to our best, and they slightly under-perform, then we’ll have a chance.”

Raith travel to Glasgow in good form, sitting fourth in the Championship following a 2-1 win away to St Mirren on Friday, and McKinnon believes his Kirkcaldy side can be difficult opponents for Celtic.

“We’re a banana skin for them,” he said.

“We’re going to have to be compact, defend well, match runners and be disciplined, and try to play when we get the chance

“We’ll try to frustrate them, there’s no doubt about that. There’s no way we’re going there to open up.

“They’ll be used to teams trying to frustrate them and they’ll keep passing it, so concentration is everything.”

With a busy schedule including European football, Celtic could use squad rotation and rest some key players, but McKinnon insists that will not make them any less formidable.

“It’s going to be a tough game, no matter who they play,” he said.

“If they bring in guys like Mackay-Stevens or Stokes, these are top class players in that league.

“I watched them against Dundee United at Tannadice a few weeks ago and they played what was meant to be a third 11 in a league game and they beat them 3-1 going on 7 or 8.

“They have some squad, and that’s why they’ll win the league this year. There’s no about about that.

“But this is a cup game and anything can happen. It’s the first game this season where there’s no pressure on us, so we can go there and enjoy it.

“We’ll work hard, have a good shape and be disciplined, and see where it takes us.”

McKinnon is hopeful that Iain Davidson will be available after recovering from the dead leg that forced him to limp out of the match against St Mirren on Friday after just 24 minutes.