Raith look to go eight points clear after passing midweek test

Jason Thomson scores the third goal against Albion Rovers and celebrates with Dario Zanatta. Pic: George McLuskie
Jason Thomson scores the third goal against Albion Rovers and celebrates with Dario Zanatta. Pic: George McLuskie

Raith Rovers boss Barry Smith hailed his table toppers for coming through a test of character against Albion Rovers in midweek.

After taking a first-half lead, Rovers were pegged back shortly after half-time but the players responded with a further two goals to clinch the victory.

The result took Raith five points clear at the top of League One, which can be extended to eight this Saturday with a win over Airdrie, with title rivals Ayr preoccupied with a Scottish Cup tie against Rangers.

Speaking after the win on Tuesday, Smith said: “It’s a great three points in front of the home fans, and we had to work hard for it. There was a test there when they equalised and I think the boys showed the winning mentality they’ve got and came through that test well.”

John Herron scored twice in the midweek win and Smith reckons the midfielder is now starting to show his true form having been curtailed by injury problems earlier in the campaign.

“He certainly did well and that’s the John Herron we know,” he said. “He’s previously been playing with a wee injury that didn’t help him but he’s back to full fitness now and I think he’s showing his true worth.”

Smith insists his sole focus on Saturday will be on taking the three points against Airdrie, rather than the potential prize of an eight-point lead over Ayr.

“We’ll just concentrate on winning the game,” he said.

“Airdrie have been a stuffy team. They’re well-organised and make it very difficult to play but we think we’ve got players that can create things and get in the right position to score goals.”

With injuries starting to clear up, Raith’s squad was stronger than it has been for some time on Tuesday with the likes of Greig Spence, Ross Matthews, Kyle Benedictus and Scott Robertson all named on the bench.

“It’s good to have that competition for places,” Smith added. “It’s also a case of knowing guys coming off the bench will have an impact, or be like-for-like replacements, where we know they can all do a job, rather than throwing on young players who might not be quite ready for it. It’s good to have that experience on the bench.”

Lewis Vaughan suffered a suspected dead leg in the closing minutes against Albion and will be assessed ahead of the Airdrie match.