Raith raring for first Fife derby of season

Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 'Raith v Forfar - LEWIS VAUGHAN celebrates scoring - 'credit- Fife Photo Agency
Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 'Raith v Forfar - LEWIS VAUGHAN celebrates scoring - 'credit- Fife Photo Agency

The first Fife derby of the League One season takes place at Bayview on Saturday - and Raith Rovers are raring to go.

The club is on a high, both on and off the park following the recent takeover, and looking to maintain momentum after three home wins in a week.

For boss Barry Smith the trip to Methil will mark his first return to East Fife – the club he left in the summer in order to take over the reins at Stark’s Park.

And with the nucleus of his former squad still intact, and perhaps out to prove a point, he knows to expect a difficult local derby.

“They’ve got a good squad down there, so I know it will be a tough game, but we’ve got to go into the game confident given our results,” he said.

“We’ll never disrespect a team, especially as I know how good a unit East Fife can be, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in my players as well, and the way we’re progressing, and direction we’re going in, is a good one.”

Raith go into the match with strikers in goal-scoring form, none more so than Lewis Vaughan who has netted in each of the last seven games.

Fans are hoping to reach the end of the transfer window without losing their star man, and while no bids have been received, Smith is confident that Vaughan is happy at Raith.

“We don’t want to lose any of our players, because every player has got their own value to what I want to do,” he said.

“Lewis is enjoying his football. He could go somewhere else and not enjoy his football.

“He’s playing full of confidence and the whole team is allowing him to do that.

“For as much as the strikers are doing well and scoring goals, you’ve got to have a solid foundation to allow the attack minded players to go and express themselves.

“We’ve got belief in the dressing room that we’ve got guys who can score goals if we keep back door shut.”

Raith this week signed experienced goalkeeper Graeme Smith on a short-term deal until January following the injury to Aaron Lennox.

Smith (34) had been without a club since being released by Peterhead following their relegation to League Two at the end of last season.

He spent the past five years at Balmoor having previously featured for St Mirren, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock, as well as two seasons as back-up ‘keeper at Rangers, where he was an unused sub in the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

With Lennox likely to be sidelined for a number of weeks after picking up a groin injury in the recent Challenge Cup win over Brora Rangers, Smith is delighted to get the ‘keeper on board.

“He’s got a lot of experience, played at a very high level, and his experience of this division will certainly help,” he said. “Aaron is seeing a specialist but we’ve got an idea he’ll be out for an extended period of time.”

Smith admitted that the money spent bringing in a goalkeeper could scupper any move for an outfield player in the loan market.

“That will probably deny me the chance to bring anyone else in,” he said.

“That’s football and you just have to deal with it.

“After the problems the club had with goalkeepers last season, we have to make sure we’re safe in that department.

“We’ve got a good squad, and we would like to strengthen, but there are priorities.”

Supporters are reminded that Saturday’s match at Bayview is all ticket.