It may have only been a preseason friendly, but Tuesday’s night match in Forfar meant an awful lot more to Lewis Vaughan.
Not even a painful post-match blister could wipe the smile from the 20-year-old striker’s face as he completed 90 minutes in his first top team appearance since August last year.
Vaughan started the previous campaign on fire, scoring twice in the opening two games before picking up a season-ending cruciate ligament injury against Albion Rovers.
Months of recovery and rehabilition followed, and Vaughan could only watch from the sidelines as Rovers clinched their play-off spot.
Now the youngster is eager to make up for lost time.
“That was my first game for the first team in almost a year so I was buzzing to get back out there,” Vaughan told the Press.
“The boys all had a head start on me because I never played a minute of league football last season so I trained hard right through my holiday.
“I’ve worked hard to get ready for the season and hopefully it will pay off.
“I wasn’t the sharpest tonight, but I was just happy to get back out there and I’ll make sure I’m ready for the start of the season.”
Vaughan was dejected after missing out on Raith’s play-off adventure last season despite returning for development league action in April.
“I thought I was going to make it, but I picked up a thigh strain in the development games,” he said.
“I was warned it would happen because I hadn’t ran properly for so long that the muscles got a shock.
“I scored a couple of goals at Forfar, but the reserve games compared to the first team is a massive difference in class, ability, and even fitness.
“The goals will come for the first team, I’m not too worried about that, it’s just about getting the fitness back and kicking on.”
Vaughan is determined to realise his potential this season and build a reputation as one of the Championship’s top young strikers.
“I thought last season was going to be my big season - it didn’t work out and I was absolutely gutted,” he said.
“I’m here now so hopefully this season I can hit the ground running and score goals.
“You’re always going to have disappointments in football but I’ll make sure that I make up for it this season.”