'We will go with a different approach': Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray hoping to get past Scottish Championship 'bogey team' Airdrieonians to reach SPFL Trust Trophy final

Ian Murray is relishing the prospect of taking on old club Airdrieonians in this Friday's semi-final (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)Ian Murray is relishing the prospect of taking on old club Airdrieonians in this Friday's semi-final (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)
Ian Murray is relishing the prospect of taking on old club Airdrieonians in this Friday's semi-final (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)
With his club’s Scottish Cup hopes for this season having been extinguished via a 2-1 fourth round defeat at Livingston on January 20, this Friday night's home SPFL Trust Trophy semi-final against former team Airdrieonians would seem to have taken on extra importance for Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray.

Murray – whose ex-side from North Lanarkshire have restricted Raith to only one point from the rivals’ three Scottish Championship meetings this season – was asked if Raith’s recent poor record against Rhys McCabe’s team could be attributed to Airdrieonians’ ‘inside knowledge’ of Murray’s managerial tactics with the 42-year-old having bossed there between 2018 and 2022.

"I wouldn't say so,” Murray – whose second-placed team slipped a point behind leaders Dundee United in the league after losing 3-2 at home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday - told the Fife Free Press. “I think all managers and teams do their homework, it's not rocket science. They're not just going to come and let you go and play.

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"I think in two of the three games against Airdrie, we deserved to win them.

"The last one we certainly didn't. I thought it was one of our poorest, if not the poorest, performances of the season.

"I wouldn't say we're desperate for revenge. It's more about trying to get to the final. We would love to get to the final again.

"We look forward to it. We have two more games against Airdrie, two big ones obviously. Three points in the league and obviously the semi-final. So we just do our best, we try and win them and go with a different approach to try and make ourselves better.

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"I'll be honest, the games we've played with Airdrie have not been the best games for both sides. Airdrie will be delighted though because they've beaten us twice and that's what the name of the game is. So we need to have a wee look at that, maybe have a wee think and see how we can create a bit more chances against them.

"We had that similar problem against Dunfermline, albeit we were winning games against them. But we weren't creating enough so we had to change a few things and look at a few things, so we'll do that for Airdrie as well.

"It's an opportunity to get to that final again which would be amazing for us."

When asked if last season's gut-wrenching 1-0 SPFL Trust Trophy final defeat to Hamilton Accies makes he and his players even more determined to win the cup this time around, Murray replied: "I think so. I think when you win a final or lose a final, certainly my first thought is: 'Can we go and do it again?'

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"And it's always very difficult, it's always a long shot in the cup. But we've managed to put ourselves in position.

"We were disappointed last season but as I point out to the players all the time: 'You only get disappointments in football by actually getting to places where you're in a position to experience them'.

"You almost get more stick if you get beaten in the final than if you do in the first round, which is a bit of a strange one.

"So we just want to try and get to the final first and foremost and then when we're in it we know it's Falkirk or The New Saints, which would be a tough one as well. But first and foremost let's get there."

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On Raith’s faltering form recently, Murray added: "We are into 2024 with so much ahead of us and so many potentially exciting times.

"We just have to remember that, get over a bit of a dip in form, and get it back as soon as we can."

Semi-final wins for Raith and Falkirk – who take on Welsh outfit The New Saints this Saturday evening – would mean a showpiece reunion for Bairns boss John McGlynn against the Kirkcaldy side which he bossed in two spells from 2006 to 2012 and 2018 to 2022.

"We need to get past TNS. And Airdrie have beaten Raith twice this season so there’s a lot of football to be played before we get to that stage,” McGlynn said.

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