Raith set for Friday night TV showdown

It's a dame fine show! Raith's first team squad went to Adam Smith Theatre where they met Billy Mack, the legendary dame and star of the thatre's annual panto. Can you spot which one he is?!
It's a dame fine show! Raith's first team squad went to Adam Smith Theatre where they met Billy Mack, the legendary dame and star of the thatre's annual panto. Can you spot which one he is?!

Raith Rovers are preparing for a fortnight of Friday night football that could have a big bearing on the club’s top four aspirations in the Championship this season.

Fifth-placed Rovers travel to Dumfries tomorrow night to face a Queen of the South side currently two points below them, while the following Friday the team travel to Greenock to face Morton, who currently occupy fourth place ahead of Raith on goal difference.

Both games are live on BBC Alba and although Raith could cement their place in the top four with two victories, boss Ray McKinnon insists the games will not decide anyone’s fate.

“It might look like a pivotal fortnight on paper, but I don’t think it is,” he said.

“We’d like to win the games and give ourselves some daylight and try to catch the teams above us, but I’m not looking at it as do-or-die. It’s nothing like that, but they are big games and good games to play in.

“I’m just glad we’ve got almost everyboody back. The squad’s getting a bit stronger, so it gives us a few more options come Friday night.”

McKinnon admitted that the postponement of Saturday’s game against Rangers was a mixed blessing as he was struggling to field a team of 11 fit players.

“All the players we listed as doubtful failed fitness tests before the game,” he said.

“From the club standpoint financially, it probably wasn’t, but for me personally, it was a blessing in disguise.

“Fingers crossed, everyone is on the mend and we should be back to where we usually are come Friday, with just the long term ones out injured.”

Lewis Toshney, Grant Anderson, Mitch Megginson and Rory McKeown - all ruled out on Saturday - all returned to training this week ahead of the trip to Palmerston Park.

Raith go into Friday’s match looking to end a run of five league matches without a victory but McKinnon stressed: “The performances have been good, if we’d just kept our concentration for 90 minutes, and taken our chances, then we’d have had a lot more points.”

The Raith boss added that he is already starting to plan for next season with thoughts of building on the side he created over the summer.

“At the start of this season we had to put a team together and see where we went with it. Ideally what trying to do is build a team that gets stronger and stronger. That’s the idea for me.

“Wherever we finish this season is a bonus, if we can get top four, great, but as long as this club starts moving in the right direction, and starts building a team, instead of a pick and mix at start of season, that’s the main thing.

“That’s not to say we won’t have a right go this season, because I think we’re doing alright.”

Meanwhile Raith chief executive Eric Drysdale is firmly behind the new League Cup revamp - because he was part of board that delivered the changes.

From next season the competition will have a new group stage format for the first round, with drawn matches going to a penalty shoot-out for an extra bonus point.

Drysdale, a member of the SPFL board, said: “Some of it was my baby so I’m certainly positive about it.

“There’s been a lot of work done behind the scenes.

“It’s a competition that’s dear to the hearts of every Raith Rovers supporter for obvious reasons.

“This is about giving the competition a shot in the arm.

“There’s a sizeable TV deal with BT Sport,a number of competitive matches at the start of the season in better weather than we’re having now - here’s hoping -and a guaranteed two home games in July that will bring in some revenue.

“It will invigorate the tournament and get a lot of interest in it. The indiviudal matches will also be more interesting as well due to novelty of penalty shoot out to gain an extra point,”