St Andrews United: Manager Robbie Raeside hails his side's 'tremendous' achievement in going joint top of league
Saints recorded a 3-0 home league victory over Vale of Leithen last Saturday to move onto 27 points from 12 games. Only goal difference now separates Raeside's third-placed side from leaders Whitburn – beaten 5-3 at Rosyth last weekend – and second-placed Camelon who won 7-0 at Preston Athletic.
"I’d be lying if I told you we didn’t look at the other results when we came into the dressing room after the game,” Raeside told the Herald and Citizen. "We were pleased to hear the Whitburn result.
"We feel like we’re going through a difficult period just now. We continue to have a lot of injuries and don’t have our troubles to seek.
"So to be able to hang on in there with teams I see as the big guns with the money they’re spending and the squads they’ve got – Camelon and Whitburn in particular – for us to be up there with them is tremendous.
"If we can get just a few of our injured boys back fit again then we can hopefully maintain that over the season.”
United had been expected to see off bottom club Vale very comfortably last weekend but it didn’t prove that easy as the three goals from Lewis Sawers (penalty), Scott Reekie and Ryan McManus were all scored in the final 17 minutes.
“We made life harder for ourselves because we weren’t taking chances,” Raeside said.
"We missed a lot of chances and the longer it goes, they get hope and spirit from that.
"You did begin to wonder if it was going to be one of those days. Their keeper was having some great saves and we were missing some ridiculous chances so I was very glad to get the goals in the last 20 minutes.
"I was pleased to win.”
One major plus for Raeside and Saints last Saturday was the fine display by second half substitute Reece Redpath.
"I thought Reece came on and gave us some good energy and a good impact in the game so I was pleased for him,” Raeside said.
"He came on in central midfield at 0-0 and although he didn’t score, he made a good impact. He turned down a move earlier in the season and I’m glad he did.
"He’s one of these players that maybe wasn’t a starter at times but he always gives 100% and – with the way he played when he came on – he is definitely in my thoughts to start this Saturday.”
In a break from league duties, Saints – without five injured players – visit second division side Kennoway Star Hearts this Saturday in a fourth round Challenge Cup tie which kicks off at 1.30pm.
"The five who’ll be missing this weekend are all potential starters,” Raeside said.
"But Ryan Roche is available again which is a big bonus. He trained on Wednesday night after being out injured for a couple of weeks.
"But we’ve just had the blow that Kyle Sneddon is unavailable because of a broken finger.
"He has been playing with that injury but he's been to see a specialist and he’s been advised to have two weeks of no contact. If he got a knock on it he would be in trouble.
"We’ll still have a very competitive team taking to the field at Kennoway.
"It’s a big game, offering a chance to get into the last 16 of this cup which would be tremendous. And we want to go even further.
"It will be a difficult game away from home against a team that are doing reasonably well in their league.
"They’ve got a very dangerous striker in Dylan Walker. He’s going to have to be watched as he’s scored a lot of goals.
"I don’t think our players will take them lightly.
"Our goalkeeper Calum Brodie used to be at Kennoway so he knows what's involved.
"It’s a game we’re looking forward to.”