Raith boss Smith hails squad of ‘team players’

Liam Buchanan celebrates after scoring against Buckie. Pic: Brian Smith
Liam Buchanan celebrates after scoring against Buckie. Pic: Brian Smith

Barry Smith has urged his Raith Rovers players to maintain the standards set in the demolition of Buckie Thistle on Tuesday night.

Rovers produced a sparkling attacking display to fire six goals past a Highland League side that had recently restricted Dundee and Dundee United to two and three goals respectively.

It was Raith’s first victory in the Betfred Cup at the third time of asking after encouraging performances in defeats to both Dundee clubs.

“I’m delighted for the players,” Smith said. “They put so much effort and work into the two games against Dundee and Dundee United and didn’t get any rewards.

“On Tuesday they had the same work ethic and got rewarded for being persistent with some good play and good finishes.”

One of the most pleasing aspects of the display for Smith was evidence of training ground work being carried onto the pitch.

“For as much as some of the goals were great strikes, a couple of them were things we’ve worked on in training,” he said.

“For the coaching staff to see that means we’re going in the right direction, which is just as important, because it means the players have got the belief to put what we’re telling them into practice.

“They’ve worked hard, listened and learned.”

A feature of Raith’s early season performances has been a willingness to defend from the front, and Smith has been working on restoring a team togetherness that was sorely lacking for much of last season.

“The boys know what is expected of them,” he said. “I’m a team player - and every one of them knows they are part of a team.

“For us to get success this season we’ll have to remain as a unit, and we feel that’s going to be our strength.

“You couldn’t meet as many team players as we’ve got in our group. It was a good team performance all over the park, and it’s about maintaining that.”

Smith hopes fans who have attended games so far will be encouraged by performances, and try to tempt their friends down to Stark’s Park on Saturday for the visit of Cowdenbeath.

“We had a brilliant travelling support at Buckie, and if we’re to be successful this year, everyone has to pull in the same direction,” he said.

“Hopefully the fans travelling up here will go back and tell other Raith supporters about the team performance.

“Hopefully we can gather momentum, take it into Saturday’s game against Cowdenbeath, then look forward to the Alloa game to start the league season.”

Despite neither Raith nor Cowdenbeath being able to realistically qualify from the cup now, Smith denied that it would make the game any less meaningful.

“I want to win, and our mentality is that we have to go out an win every game,” he said. “Whether people think it might not mean anything, it is important that we go in to the first league game of the season full of confidence.”

On the injury front, goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert is facing a further three months on the sidelines after suffering a setback in his recovery from last season’s groin surgery.