Raith can handle the pressure says Smith

Greig Spence takes a shot at goal during last week's draw at Airdrie (Pic by George McLuskie)
Greig Spence takes a shot at goal during last week's draw at Airdrie (Pic by George McLuskie)

Raith Rovers manager Barry Smith says his side are able to manage the pressure of being at the top end of League One.

The Stark’s Park boss watched Raith put in a below-par performance in a 2-2 draw with Airdrie last Sunday afternoon, where a last minute own goal salvaged a point for the Kirkcaldy side.

But despite that disappointment, Smith says he is pleased with the way his players have coped in a season where they are seen as one of the major scalps for other sides playing in the division.

“The expectation for Raith Rovers is to be at the top of the league and win promotion this year,” he admitted.

“I said at the start of the season we have to manage that expectation and I think the boys have dealt with it well on the majority of occasions.

“We know that at times we can pass the ball better, but the boys know that themselves.”

Rovers currently sit in second place in League One, six points behind leaders Ayr, though the Somerset Park side, one of the only other full-time teams in the division along with Rovers and Airdrie, have played one game more.

Smith said that he thinks his side is in a good position in the table at this time of the season.

“We’re not even half way through the season yet,” he said. “There are a lot of points to play for so we’ll just keep working hard and focusing on the next game.”

Rovers welcome Albion Rovers to Kirkcaldy on Saturday who languish third bottom of the table.

It’s an opportunity for Raith to gain some revenge after suffering a surprise 2-1 defeat at the Exsel Group Stadium back in September, where Rovers gave a poor account of themselves.

Smith said: “We know that we didn’t play well down at Albion Rovers.

“They’ve got good experience so we know that we’ll have to be a lot better than the last time we played against them. I fully expect us to be better and go for the three points.”

Smith goes into the match with a full squad to choose from, which is slightly unusual going into the Christmas period.

One or two players are carrying injuries, though.

“Young Jamie Watson has a slight knock so he hasn’t trained. With such a small squad we’ve had to make some changes along the way, but that’s par for the course.”

When required Smith says he has no worries about calling on some of the squad’s younger players to step up and come in to the side, though says he is careful to manage their development properly.

“The young boys will get a chance if we feel they’re good enough,” said the boss.

“It is difficult for them playing consistently, week in, week out, and sometimes we’re maybe asking too much of the young ones.

“But they’ve done well up to a point and they will get better, but we have to look after them as well.”

Smith said with the January transfer window looming he’ll aim to add to the squad, saying: “Whether we can or not is a different question.”