We’re fit and ready for the new season

Raith players celebrate Callum Elliot's goal against Inverness. Pic: George McLuskie
Raith players celebrate Callum Elliot's goal against Inverness. Pic: George McLuskie

Raith Rovers boss Grant Murray declared his team ready for the new season after coming through pre-season with a clean bill of health.

Rovers’ first competitive match of the newly branded Scottish Professional Football League campaign will see League Two outfit Stirling Albion visit Stark’s Park on Saturday in the Ramsdens Cup first round.

The board has reduced prices to £10 and £5 in a bid to attract a good-sized crowd, and Murray is keen to get off to a good start.

“It’s a cup tie and the most important thing for us is to get to the next round,” he said.

“Yes, we want to play flowing football, but the biggest thing for us is to go out and win the game.

“We’ve watched Stirling twice, and they scored four against Stenhousemuir on Saturday, so we know they are a capable side.

“They may be the underdogs but they will be a threat - they have an experienced squad.

“The biggest bonus for us is that everyone came through pre-season with very little injuries.

“We’ve had a few niggles but nothing that would put anyone in doubt for the weekend.”

Murray has his starting 11 for Saturday in mind, but he expects competition for places to be hot.

“The guys on bench on Saturday are well capable of playing in the team,” he said.

“Everyone in the squad knows that there are players waiting to come on and make that position their own.”

Defender Jason Thomson (25) has been given the captain’s armband.

“He’s been here a few years now, and the players look up to him,” Murray said.

“He trains well, he’s good in the dressing room, and he is a consistent performer.”

Rovers failed to pick up a win in their four friendlies but when asked if this was a concern, Murray replied: “Not at all.

“I’ve been involved in great pre-seasons, and poor pre-seasons over the years, but it’s the first competitive game that counts.

“I’m happy with the way we’ve played and the goals we’ve scored in our friendlies.

“We’ve got a few more fresh faces this year, and we feel they’ve fitted in quickly.”

Meanwhile, a young Rovers XI featuring player-manager Murray and first team coach Laurie Ellis secured a 3-2 win over Spartans in a bounce match in Edinburgh on a stormy Tuesday night.

The first half finished 1-1 as the hosts took the lead from the penalty spot before Murray levelled things with a header from a corer.

Spartans regained the lead early in the second half before Lewis Vaughan levelled with a shot from the edge of the box.

Vaughan struck again from the penalty spot to seal the win.