'There is a danger of complacency': St Andrews United boss Robbie Raeside assesses this Saturday's league trip to Oakley United

St Andrews United manager Robbie Raeside's team return to competitive action this Saturday after a weekend off (Pic by Alan Murray)St Andrews United manager Robbie Raeside's team return to competitive action this Saturday after a weekend off (Pic by Alan Murray)
St Andrews United manager Robbie Raeside's team return to competitive action this Saturday after a weekend off (Pic by Alan Murray)
After no competitive action last Saturday as they had originally been due to play Rosyth before the shock news that Stevie Crawford’s team had folded, St Andrews United get the chance to reignite their bid for promotion from the East of Scotland League first division this Saturday when they travel to strugglers Oakley United for a 2.30pm kick-off.

Saints – who prepared by instead training at Dundee’s Regional Performance Centre last weekend before winning 3-0 in a home bounce game against Kirriemuir Thistle on Monday evening – will be warm favourites to see off second-bottom Oakley, having thrashed them 6-0 at St Andrews in the sides’ previous league contest on September 6 last year.

United gaffer Robbie Raeside told the Herald and Citizen: "If you look at the league table, there probably is a danger of complacency from our players in this game.

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"I have been emphasising to the players all week that it is a massive game.

"Oakley are fighting for their lives and this could be as difficult a game as we get all season, going away there on a heavy pitch.”

Oakley beat Vale of Lethen 2-1 at home last weekend and – although this win came against a Vale side who are bottom having lost all 17 of their league fixtures this campaign – Raeside is not underestimating the Blairwood Park victors.

“Any win in this league is a good win,” the boss added. “The results have been incredibly unpredictable.

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"You look at Whitburn losing 3-1 at Preston Athletic last week. Every week it’s a very competitive league and every game is really tough getting three points against anybody.

"It’s going to be really tough at Oakley and that’s why we’ve just got to focus on one game at a time.

“It’s been a really patchy couple of months for us for one reason or another. But the players have trained well for the past couple of weeks and have got a fantastic opportunity with six league games in four weeks, to put themselves right back in the title race and that’s all we’re focusing on, which is great for a newly promoted team.

"These six games are going to define our season. If we can win the majority of them or all of them, we’re right back in – not just promotion – but for winning the title.

"That’s what we aim to do.

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"The next game’s always the most crucial but this period of games really excites me and I hope it excites the players as well.”

Although fourth-placed United’s tally of 33 points from 16 matches puts them 12, 11 and 10 points respectively behind the top three of Newtongrange Star, Dunipace and Camelon Juniors, this is expected to tighten up without Saints kicking a ball tomorrow (Thursday) evening.

For, at that time, the East of Scotland League board members are expected to meet to declare all of Rosyth’s first division results this season ‘null and void’.

This would benefit Saints as they lost 4-1 to Rosyth earlier this campaign while Crawford’s team lost to the top three, so Raeside’s men would be three points nearer that trio.

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Although St Andrews have gone through a stop/start spell blighted by a number of postponements in recent weeks, the fact is that they have lost their last two league games played (1-0 at home to Leith Athletic on January 13 and 3-0 at Dunipace on January 27) so they could be doing with a positive result against Oakley.

Raeside said: “Those defeats were that long ago that I think we are well recovered from them.

"So I don’t think those results will be significant in terms of affecting us badly this Saturday.”

Raeside also assessed his side’s bounce game win.

“It was a good workout for us against Thistle. They train on a Monday night so it worked well for them to come over.

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"I know their manager Stephen McInally so it was convenient.

"It wasn’t the best performance from us and it’s never easy playing friendlies mid season but we needed to get on the grass.

"At this time of the year you’re on the astroturf all the time and then suddenly you’ve to go and play on the grass at Oakley on a Saturday.

"I just wanted us to have a game on grass so we’re lucky to have the lights at Recreation Park and were able to do that. It was a good exercise from that point of view.

"Everybody got at least a half I think although Ross Cunningham was coming back from an ankle injury so he got half an hour. And we had a look at a couple of young trialists as well.”

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