St Andrews United boss Robbie Raeside assesses his side's chances of winning East of Scotland League first division

Robbie Raeside's team are going for back-to-back promotions (Pic Alan Murray)Robbie Raeside's team are going for back-to-back promotions (Pic Alan Murray)
Robbie Raeside's team are going for back-to-back promotions (Pic Alan Murray)
With his second-placed team sitting six points behind leaders Dunipace in the East of Scotland first division with three games in hand, St Andrews United gaffer Robbie Raeside has assessed the very realistic prospect of his team ending up as champions.

Saints’ tally of 48 points from 21 fixtures also has them looking comfortable in the promotion race, as they lead fourth-placed Newtongrange Star by five points having played two fewer matches.

"Foremost in our mind is just winning the next game,” Raeside told the Herald and Citizen. “That’s all you’ve got to do. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t look at league tables, because we all do.

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"But come game day, you’ve just got to play the game in front of you.

“We want to try and get promotion, that’s the first thing.

"If we do that, then we’ll see where we are regarding trying to win the league, but why not?

"We are not there to finish second, we want to finish as high in the league as we can.

"If we’ve got a chance of winning it, we’ll definitely go for it.”

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The next test for United – who haven’t played competitively for three weeks – is this Saturday’s home league encounter against Fife rivals and 11th-placed Kirkcaldy & Dysart, whom they defeated 3-1 at Alex Penman Park in this season’s earlier meeting on August 2 last year.

"The league positions would tell you that we are hot favourites going into this game,” Raeside said.

"But I have been watching clips of Kirkcaldy & Dysart online and I have been impressed.

“In the game against Kirkcaldy at their place, we scored two goals in the last 15 minutes to win that one.

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"We won 3-1 but it’s like every game in this league, it was very competitive, very difficult, and I’ve said that to the players.

"We had a bounce match on Monday and it was OK, it was what we needed because there was a bit of rustiness there.

"They can train all they want but without a doubt we needed that bounce game.

"I’m sure the players are ready for what’s ahead, looking forward to playing Kirkcaldy and trying to get three points on the board.

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"But we know it’s going to be a difficult game. They’ve got some good players.”

Saints go into the home contest against K & D having suffered postponements for each of their last two games – a home League Cup second round tie against the same opposition on Wednesday, April 3 and a first division trip to Newtongrange Star last Saturday – which has pained Raeside.

He added: “There was a bit of frustration with the Newtongrange match being off because the midweek game had been postponed as well.

"It will be a nuisance having to go down to Newtongrange again in midweek. But it’s looking like Whitburn and Blackburn might have to come to us in midweek, it’s looking like, so that’s just the way of the world.

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"It’s just going to be like that this season. The league have done their best to avoid midweek travelling but when you’ve had so many games off you’ve got to expect that will happen.

"It’s incredible having games waterlogged in April.

"But we had one or two key players struggling with injury – including Scott Reekie - so it actually might have been a blessing in disguise that the Newtongrange game didn’t take place.

"We weren’t going down there at full strength I don’t think.

"But now these guys are fit for Saturday, when we have everybody fully fit apart from David Shields who has a hamstring injury.

"We are looking forward to it.”

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In addition to Reekie being back, United will also be boosted by the respective returns of James Murage – back from playing internationally for Kenya under-20s – and Dundee loanee Tobias Davies-Browne, for the game against Kirkcaldy.

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