Rovers call for big turnout of support for Hibs clash

Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon
Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon

Raith Rovers are appealing to lapsed fans to return to Stark’s Park on Saturday as Ray McKinnon’s men look to continue their impressive start to the season.

Despite a small increase in gate price, Rovers are hoping to achieve an attendance of 4000 or higher for the Championship’s match of the day against Hibernian and extra efforts have been made to promote the big fixture.

McKinnon released an open letter this week calling on supporters to turn out in force to back a team that has been performing above and beyond expectations in his first season in charge.

There will also be a number of new matchday initiatives in place, including a meet and greet with injured stars Lewis Vaughan, Ross Callachan and Craig Barr in the South Stand between 2pm and 2.30pm.

The club has also invited legends Frank Connor and John McStay as special guests, who will be going for a pre-match concourse wander before conducting the half time draw.

As part of a drive to improve the matchday experience, Raith have appointed a new matchday co-ordinator, Ali More, who explained: “This is part of the initiative to build a rapport between the fans and the team.

“We are really now making a plea for lapsed fans to come and back us - give us a chance again.”

The match will also see the return of the popular half-time penalty kick competition with there will be chance for youngsters to win a signed ball in a Guess the Team competition.

Rovers are currently third in the Championship, one point behind Hibs, who knocked the Kirkcaldy side out of second spot in midweek with a 1-0 win in Falkirk.

Amidst the hype, boss McKinnon insisted that the match is just the latest fixture in the calendar for his squad, and he is looking forward to the challenge posed by Hibs.

“I’m looking forward to the game, but we will treat it like any other game and try to win the three points,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter who we are playing, it’s the same process, and we’re hoping the guys can do the business on Saturday.

“We know what’s at stake - if we win we go second - and if we keep doing what we’re doing, defending well, passing the ball well and taking our chances when they come along, that will give us a chance.”

As well as gunning for a sixth straight league win, McKinnon will become the first Raith manager in history to win his first eight home games in all national competitions if he can guide his side to three points on Saturday.

While accepting the Raith cannot compete with a club the size of Hibs off the park, McKinnon insists his players can be more than a match for the Edinburgh side over 90 minutes.

“Hibs are the favourites - they have the second biggest budget in league by a country mile,” he said.

“They have a really strong squad - as they should with the finances they have - but it’s 11 versus 11, and I’d gladly have my 11 against their 11, no qualms.

“There are different ways to win games. I looked at them on Tuesday night and know how we will set the side up to try to beat them. They are on a great run - we’re on a great run - so it should be a cracker.”

McKinnon admitted he will have a selection headache on Saturday after last week’s substitutes made a telling impact in the 1-0 victory over Alloa.

“The boys have done well when they’ve been brought off the bench,” he said.

“It’s a team effort and the guys have all bought into it. They all know their time will come and their contribution is valuable.

“The team spirit is there.”

Raith were given the good news that the injury picked up by Lewis Toshney at Alloa should clear up in time for him to face Hibs while Ross Callachan was also expecting to return to full training this week.