Time for Raith to get back to winning ways

Raith manager Gary Locke. Pic: Michael Gillen
Raith manager Gary Locke. Pic: Michael Gillen

Raith Rovers boss Gary Locke is hoping his side can return from Scottish Cup duty with a much-needed win in a crucial league match at home to Dumbarton.

A run of nine league games without a win since the end of October has resulted in Rovers sliding from third down to seventh in the Championship table.

The Kirkcaldy side are now closer to the relegation play-offs than the promotion ones, but with games in hand on the teams around them, Locke is hopeful the team can shake off recent criticism, and get the long-awaited league victory this Saturday.

“We’ve had some stick and I’m not sure we deserved all of it,” he said.

“We went on a run of seven draws and that killed us a bit, so we have to get back to winning ways.

“But we have done well against the bigger clubs and we played well in both games against Hearts.

“We should take a lot of confidence from that and hopefully that can shine through on Saturday because, for me, that is a bigger game.”

Lock is hopeful striker Declan McManus can regain some scoring form after ending a barren run stretching back to October 22 with the equaliser against Hearts on Sunday.

“I’m delighted for Declan because that’s the type of goal that his play has deserved,” Locke said.

“Unfortunately strikers get judged on the amount of goals they score - which is only right - but Declan’s work rate for the team is unquestionable and I’m over the moon for him.

“We left him out for a few games because he was a bit low on confidence but I’m hopeful that goal will give him a boost.

“Even in training this week, what a difference in him. His body language, everything was so much better.

“I’m hopeful the Hearts games will give the whole team the boost we’ve needed.”

Locke felt young midfielders Ross Matthews and Ross Callachan put themselves in the shop window with impressive performances against Hearts.

“They applied themselves brilliantly,” he said.

“As Raith Rovers manager I don’t want to lose my best young players, but they’ve got to aspire to play at highest level they possibly can and if they continue to play as well as they did on Saturday, people will sit up and take notice of them.”

Raith goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert echoed his manager’s sentiments about the importance of returning to winning ways in the league.

“First and foremost for us, the league form has been poor,” he said. “It needs to be better, we need to have more points on the board.

“We’ll take positives from Sunday and from the replay and hopefully take that into the Dumbarton game.

“We’ve got big games coming up, teams round about us who we want to go and beat, and teams we feel we can beat.

“It’s more important we climb up that league.”