Raith look to make game in hand count at Stranraer

Bobby Barr made his return from injury on Saturday.  Credit- Fife Photo Agency
Bobby Barr made his return from injury on Saturday. Credit- Fife Photo Agency

Raith boss Barry Smith insists that the point earned against Ayr United on Saturday will only be a good one if his team follows it up with a victory in Stranraer on Saturday.

Weather-permitting, Rovers play the first of their two games in hand over their title rivals at Stair Park on Saturday, where a victory can take the Kirkcaldy men four points clear at the top of League One.

“It’s a good point as long as we win on Saturday,” Smith said. “Every game is important, but the fact we’ve got these two games in hand, and one on Saturday, it can make the point we got against Ayr a really important one.

“We have to focus on that, and get the three points.”

Stranraer have lost several players in recent weeks as the cash-strapped club looks to slash its wage bill, however, they claimed a notable 3-2 win over an in-form Airdrieonians side last Saturday.

The match highlights also showed that the game was played on a mudbath pitch, an additional hurdle the Raith players will need to overcome on Saturday.

“We’ve got to go down there with the right mentality, play the conditions, and make sure we don’t get caught out on a boggy pitch,” Smith said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t try to play football, we just have to be careful where we play it.”

Smith is hopeful of adding to squad in January – with Airdrie forward Willis Furtado believed to be close to joining – but he admitted that the financial constraints of the club make it a difficult challenge.

“If possible, we’d love to bring someone in, but only players that are better than what we’ve got,” he said.

“We’ve got a strong squad, but we still want competition for places, and if I could add a couple it would be brilliant. But finances at the club dictate what we’re allowed to do, and we’ll work by that.”

One player yet to feature despite arriving on January 2nd is on-loan Celtic midfielder Regan Hendry, although Smith admitted the youngster will need to bide his team as he looks to break into a winning side.

“It’s always difficult coming into a team that’s winning every week,” Smith said.

“We know Regan’s talent, but it’s been difficult trying to get him on the pitch.

“For as much as we have high expectations for him, when it comes to knowing whether he can handle tight games in a team going for promotion, it’s a little bit unknown. We just have to judge that at the right time. Dario Zanatta bided his time and showed what a good signing he was, and Regan will be the same.”

Raith’s injury woes are starting to ease with Bobby Barr and John Herron getting 45 minutes each in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ayr, while Kevin McHattie featured for the U20s in a 5-1 win over Forfar U20s in midweek.

Club captain Kyle Benedictus, absent with a broken leg since early September, is also back in light training, and is aiming to be back in contention sooner rather than later.