Raith look to get back to their best for Fife derby

Raith boss Barry Smith felt his side should have had a penalty in Forfar for this trip on John Herron. Pic: Eddie Doig
Raith boss Barry Smith felt his side should have had a penalty in Forfar for this trip on John Herron. Pic: Eddie Doig

Barry Smith is confident Raith Rovers will be back to their best for the second Fife derby of the season.

Rovers will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 1-1 draw at bottom of the table Forfar when East Fife visit Stark’s Park on Saturday.

Raith won the first derby of the season in emphatic fashion, putting five unanswered goals past the Methil men on their own patch, and Smith is looking for his team to put in another dominant display.

“Our full focus in on the East Fife game,” he said.

“It’s good that it’s a derby as well so that we don’t drop our standards again.

“There will be complete confidence that we’ll be back at the top of our game on Saturday. We’ve been strong at home, and we’ve had very good support at home games.

“The fans have been excellent, and the players respond when they’re getting that full backing. We want to be winning in front of them.”

Rovers will have to be wary of Fife’s recent form, which has seen them close to within five points of the league leaders, particuarly as they will be without the suspended Iain Davidson after the the centre-half picked up a red card conceding the penalty that cost the team two points at Forfar.

It was a costly mistake from the normally reliable defender, who has been at the heart of one of the best defensive records in the country with just six league goals conceded thus far, and Smith backed the vice-captain to bounce back.

“He’s made a mistake and paid for it,” Smith said.

“Whether it’s the wind or not, it’s a mistake, but he’s been excellent for us.

“Everyone will highlight that one mistake but there’s a lot of good things he’s done in previous games that maybe haven’t been highlighted.

“If you make a mistake at the other end it just goes down as a missed chance.

“Being a defender you understand and accept it, but you don’t want to forget how well he’s done this season.”

With captain Kyle Benedictus still recovering from a broken leg, and no money being made available for a loan signing, Smith only has one senior centre-half available in Euan Murray, although development squad defenders Dave McKay and Jamie Watson have stepped up in recent weeks, while midfielder Scott Robertson has also stepped back to cover.

“We’ve got a couple of options,” Smith said.

The manager admitted that he left Station Park on Saturday frustrated that the team failed to capitalise on the opportunity to claim three points.

“As much as we didn’t play as well as we expected, we should still have won,” he said.

“We’ve created a lot of chances, their ‘keeper has had a few great saves, and in the second half we were the dominant team, so it’s frustrating that you don’t come away with three points.

“Looking back at it, we also had a clear cut penalty denied when we’re down to 10 men.

“It’s easy when you look at the video, but the referee only has one chance to see it.

“That’s the way it works, and we’re noy going to moan about that, we’ll just get on with it.”

Smith also revealed his delight in securing top scorer Lewis Vaughan on a new contract until summer 2019.

“We’re delighted that Lewis is enjoying his football and wants to be here,” he said.

“I’m sure there will be clubs come calling but it has to be right for him, and primarily for Raith Rovers.

“Hopefully the deal has been done to make sure that happens.”