St Andrews United boss Robbie Raeside reckons double conquerors Kirkcaldy & Dysart can also take points off Saints' title rivals

Robbie Raeside's St Andrews United are in a great position to go for back-to-back promotions (Pic Alan Murray)Robbie Raeside's St Andrews United are in a great position to go for back-to-back promotions (Pic Alan Murray)
Robbie Raeside's St Andrews United are in a great position to go for back-to-back promotions (Pic Alan Murray)
After losing twice to Fife rivals Kirkcaldy & Dysart within the space of four days, St Andrews United manager Robbie Raeside reckons Craig Ness’s mid-table YM team could well also take points off Saints' East of Scotland League first division promotion rivals Dunipace and Whitburn in the run-in.

And, despite seeing K & D beat his lacklustre side 3-0 at St Andrews in the league on Saturday before prevailing 1-0 at the Clayton Caravan Park Recreation Ground in the League Cup second round against a youthful Saints outfit on Wednesday night, Raeside remains optimistic that his second-placed team – who trail Dunipace by nine points with six matches remaining while having three games in hand – can still go up.

"We’re in a great position just now for promotion,” Raeside told the Herald and Citizen. “It’s in our own hands, the players know what they could do and they’re well capable of doing it.

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"Kirkcaldy are only down where they are in the league because they lost six points when Rosyth folded. Kirkcaldy have still to play Dunipace and Camelon and I think they could definitely take points off them.

"Kirkcaldy, Leith, Heriot-Watt, they’re sitting mid-table but they’re very dangerous teams and on the day they can take points off anybody, as they have done this year.

"It’s that kind of league. Dunipace have won their last couple of games and then ‘boom’, you think they’re flying again, but you don’t know what’s round the corner in football. Six games is nearly a quarter of the season so there’s a lot of football to be played. We are a newly promoted team and our aim is to get promotion again.”

While Raeside ‘ripped the paint off the walls’ at half-time as he laid into his under-performing players – who were in competitive action for the first time in three weeks – during Saturday’s debacle against Kirkcaldy & Dysart, he was much happier with his side’s efforts in midweek.

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"There’s no doubt that we’ll be better for having Saturday's game under our belt,” he said. “Because we’ve found that no matter what we do, friendlies, training, bounce games as soon as we have our first competitive game after a serious break, we’ve had a shocker.

"It’s not just one or two players. I could have taken 10 of them off at half-time on Saturday. It was so poor.

"But the positive thing now is that surely we’ll not have any more big gaps between games? The players are capable of going on another run that will get us promotion. It’s all there to play for.”

On the midweek 1-0 loss to Ness’s side, Raeside added: “There’s a way of losing football matches that’s acceptable and Wednesday night was that,” he said. "The boys gave their all, battled toe to toe and played some good stuff. The first team players were more at it.

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"Kirkcaldy are a difficult team to play against as they put the ball forward early. We had six under-20s starting and nine of our 16 players in the squad were under-20s.

"So it was a good effort. We were a much younger team than them, more inexperienced.

"Our young goalkeeper Logan Halliday was excellent. He made three or four really good saves in the first half.

"The game was not a disaster for us. We knew we were going to use some of our under-20s a game to play at that level and there wasn’t a negative amongst them, they were excellent.”

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Raeside’s men return to action this Saturday in an away King Cup third round fixture against Ormiston Primrose which kicks off at 2.30pm.

As Saints’ under-20s are playing tomorrow (Friday), he said it will be back to his first team players who will form the squad for the cup tie in East Lothian.

Next Wednesday, April 24, St Andrews United visit promotion rivals Newtongrange Star – fourth on 44 points – in a first division contest which kicks off at 7.45pm.

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