Monday night’s 3-1 victory over Berwick Rangers took our Under 20s to the top of the SPFL Development League East table, four points clear with two games still to play.
We’re back down to Berwick this coming Monday in another crucial fixture and it’ll be a tough task as they’re a good side.
It’s extremely tight, but our lads have given themselves the opportunity to achieve something in their first year as a squad.
The togetherness and unity that exists between them has been the driving force that has enabled them to develop individually as well as compete as a team.
The lads certainly competed the other night, in a bruising encounter south of the border.
Kevin McHattie and Ian Davidson asked for some game time after missing the last couple of first team games through injury - and they played for us as if they were in a cup final!
I was happy to have them involved as the squad was a bit short through injury and illness.
We started the game at a high tempo, played some good football and created a few chances.
James Berry, playing in a more advanced midfield role, made some great forward runs and came close on a couple of occasions.
As did Kevin McHattie, Jonny Court and Jamie Watson, however, we went in level at the break.
Berwick came out and controlled the start of the second half and took the lead through a cracking dipping volley from the edge of the box.
Rory Brian, who was once again superb in goal, couldn’t do anything about it.
A few minutes later we were level through a bullet header from Ian Davidsonvia a dangerous free-kick delivery from Ryan Stevenson.
‘Stevo’ was provider for our second five minutes later, this time with a whipped corner kick which Dave McKay powered into the far corner with his head to grab his second goal in two games.
Yaw Osei took a great touch and finished the third off nicely with Stevenson getting his third assist of the night with a lovely through ball.
It was good to see the way the lads worked hard, tried to play on a difficult surface and also reacted after losing the first goal.
‘Davo’ and Kev’s attitudes were different class and it was great having them involved with the young lads as I always think playing with experienced players helps their development.
I’ve never had any problem motivating this group of players - they motivate each other.
I certainly enjoy winning – and both winning and losing is an important part of their development – but the overall remit is to produce players for the first team which means concentrating on developing them individually over the long term.
The attitude needed for an apprentice to earn a contract is a very single minded one where they often feel like they’re competing with their team mates.
However, my belief is that players will develop better as individuals if they are playing in a competitive team environment where there is that sense of a collective development and an understanding that if they all buy into the same standards they will have a better chance of not only improving, but getting a contract at the end of it.
One of my favourite quotes is; “A rising tide raises all ships”.
The attitude this team shows on a daily basis and the way they are together in victory and defeat shows me they get this concept.
For details on how to contribute to the Raith Player Development Fund, click here