'We have to watch him' - Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray analyses threat that prolific Linlithgow Rose striker Mark Stowe could pose his side in Scottish Cup

While acknowledging that being drawn away to tier-six outfit Linlithgow Rose can’t be considered the toughest draw that Scottish Championship side Raith Rovers could have got in the Scottish Cup’s fourth round, Stark’s Park gaffer Ian Murray says his side will have to be wary of the threat posed by the East of Scotland Football League premier division leaders.
Mark Stowe has been in prolific goalscoring form for Linlithgow RoseMark Stowe has been in prolific goalscoring form for Linlithgow Rose
Mark Stowe has been in prolific goalscoring form for Linlithgow Rose

Murray's men – who saw off fellow non league side Auchinleck Talbot 3-0 at home in the third round last Saturday – go to Prestonfield to face Gordon Herd’s side in the tournament’s next stage on the weekend of Saturday, January 21.

One of the main barriers Raith could face in making cup progress comes in the shape of Linlithgow striker Mark Stowe, who scored his 28th goal of the season in Rose's 1-0 win over Sauchie Juniors in the third round last weekend having netted 43 for The Gallant last term.

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“Mark’s quite well known in the circles," Murray told the Fife Free Press. “Because I think there’s a lot of teams in the last 12 to 18 months interested in him at our level, that’s for sure, and maybe a wee bit above it as well.

"He’s obviously got an eye for goal, he’s scored a huge number of goals, very, very quick and direct.

"So he’s going to be a player we have to watch that’s for sure.

"Linlithgow as a team are very good at junior level, really good fanbase, really good set-up as well.

"It’s a hard game. We’d much rather it was at home.”

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Although they are seventh in the league with 22 points from 16 games, Rovers are only seven points behind leaders Ayr United whom they face at Somerset Park in a tasty-lloking clash this Saturday.

Murray, whose side beat Ayr 3-2 at Stark’s Park earlier this season, added: “Tough game. Lee (Ayr manager Bullen) has done a wonderful job since he went in there, including last season to save them from relegation.

"And I think their infrastructure is starting to come to fruition now.

"Ayr are another big club in Scottish football who have probably under-achieved in the last 10, 15 or 20 years.

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"But this season in particular they’ve shown how good they are. They are a really hard working team and really good at what they do.

"They have pulled off some great results. In some games that I’ve seen them they haven’t played particularly well but they have a real good knack of winning games and that’s invaluable to have at any level.

"We don’t fear them. We beat them at home in a really hard game, but we played really well that day.

"I’m sure Ayr will see this as an opportunity to extend their lead at the top.

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"We see this as an opportunity to reduce the deficit. Really good pitch as well, nice grass pitch, so we’re looking forward to that.

"We need to improve our away form. But certainly in this league we’ve seen it’s hard to call who’s going to win.”