Togetherness needed in Raith quest to win League One title
Raith Rovers manager Barry Smith has called for togetherness on and off the pitch as the club's quest to go '˜Roaring Back' to the Championship enters the final quarter.
There were scenes of frustration at full-time on Saturday as Raith shipped two points for the second week running with the concession of a last minute equaliser against Arbroath.
Despite the disappointment, Rovers remain four points clear at the top of League One, albeit Ayr United can reduce that gap to one point should they win their game in hand.
Smith has encouraged fans to stick behind the team.
“I guess everybody was frustrated at full-time on Saturday, and we understand that,” Smith said.
“The players like the positivity the fans can create when they get behind them, and that’s played a big part in how well we’ve done this season at home with 12 wins and two draws.
“We just ask them to continue to get behind the boys.
“At this stage of the season it’s more important that everyone pulls together, and we all pull in the same direction to achieve the aim we had at the start of the season.”
Raith’s cause has not been helped by refereeing decisions going against them, with two debatable penalties conceded in the past two weeks.
“These are contributing factors,” Smith said. “A soft penalty has been given against us two Saturdays in a row, but the referee doesn’t see the one where Jason Thomson is fouled in the box.
“Things are going against us, and when that happens, it should bring the pack tighter, and that’s all we want – a mentality that we’re all in this together.
“If nobody is going to help us then at least we’ll be together.
“Let’s make it that we don’t need anybody else to help us, because all of us together will get us to where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Smith admitted that a last minute defensive breakdown allowed Arbroath to rescue a point.
“It’s not like us to be conceding late goals, and something we’re obviously disappointed with, and we’ll address, because there’s reasons behind it,” he said.
“We’ve got a structure for defending set pieces, and it wasn’t adhered to in the closing stages on Saturday, for a number of reasons. Players come off, players come on, but we have to organise better.”
For all the frustration, Raith remain four points clear, with the third best defensive record in the country, as well as the third most league goals scored.
“I don’t think we should forget about that,” Smith said.
“There is a lot of positives this season – we’ve got a good defensive record, we have been scoring goals, and we’re in a good position in the league.
“It’s just about focusing on maintaining that until the end of the season.”
Raith were due travel to relegation-threatened Forfar on Saturday, a side who have given them tough games this season despite their lowly league position, but the game has been postponed because of the snow.
Rovers would have been without three experienced players with Scott Robertson unlikely to recover from the back spasm which forced him off early against Arbroath, while Iain Davidson and John Herron were both suspended after accumulating six bookings.
Unfortunately, those two will now be suspended for the top of the table clash away to Ayr United.
Kevin McHattie is fit, however, and will return to the squad.