Raith Rovers fans can be the team’s extra man in the play-offs.
That was the message from the dressing room this week after a bumper crowd helped the team overcome a first minute red card to defeat Ayr United on Saturday.
Although the result wasn’t enough to spare Rovers from the relegation play-offs, the performance, and vocal support from a 3000+ home crowd, helped to lift spirits at Stark’s Park.
Rovers travelled to Glebe Park after our print deadline for the play-off semi-final first leg against Brechin City, the side who finished fourth in League One.
And with prices again slashed to £5 and £2 for Saturday’s second leg at Stark’s Park, Raith are hoping fans can turn out in big numbers again and roar the team a step closer to safety.
Kyle Benedictus, vice-captain, told the Press: “It’s all about sticking together now and if the fans turn out the way they did on Saturday, it will be a great boost.
“We heard them all game. It’s probably the best atmosphere I’ve been involved in, the way they were shouting encouragement and sticking behind the team.
“You can tell the players took something from it and from the first minute to 90 we gave our all.”
The outcome may not have been what anyone wanted, but the performance helped restore some pride after the abysmal 5-0 defeat to St Mirren the previous week.
Benedictus added: “Last weekend wouldn’t have felt nice to be a fan – it certainly wasn’t nice as a player.
“All the boys really appreciated them turning out in such good numbers after a result like that.”
The crowd certainly played their part on Saturday not only in terms of cheering the team on, but also in keeping the players’ informed of events at Easter Road, where only a St Mirren defeat would keep Raith up.
“We knew it was 1-0 to Hibs by the crowd’s reaction, but when we heard Ayr fans giving it back, we realised St Mirren had scored,” Benedictus explained.
“It wasn’t a nice feeling coming off at the end of the game.
“The boys worked tremendously hard after going down to 10 men so early.
“We did our part so it’s a sickener, but throughout the season we’ve not been good enough.
“We shouldn’t be in this position, but we’ve still got four games to put it right.
“The boys will give their all and if we get the backing we did on Saturday, hopefully that will be enough.”
Benedictus has prior experience of the relegation play-offs with Alloa, who overcame Brechin and Forfar to retain their Championship status in 2015.
“It was the same scenario with Alloa and that turned out well, so hopefully it will be the same again,” he said.
“But it’s not easy. Anybody who thinks it is will be far wrong, and I’ll be telling the boys that and making sure we’re ready.”
Benedictus signed a contract extension in January but did not expect to face the possibility of representing Raith in League One.
“It’s a club that deserves to be in the Championship,” he said.
“Most of the boys will tell you, they all enjoy it here, and this is not what we wanted compared to last year.
“But if we come through the play-offs and stay in the league everyone will be happy, then we can regroup and go again next year.”