We've got a bit of making-up to fans to do, says Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray ahead of Dundee's visit on Saturday

Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray is backing his side to bounce back from their opening-day defeat at Cove Rangers and pick up their first points of the new Scottish Championship season against Dundee this coming weekend.

By Darin Hutson
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 10:24 am
Updated Thursday, 4th August 2022, 11:27 am
Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray during last Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Cove Rangers (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group)
Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray during last Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Cove Rangers (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group)

Hundreds of supporters made the four-hour-plus round trip from Fife to Aberdeen last Saturday, many having made much the same journey days earlier for Raith’s 3-0 Premier Sports Cup pool game defeat by Aberdeen, only to see them beaten again without registering a single goal in response, and Murray says it’s now up to his side to make amends.

The Kirkcaldy side host Dundee at Stark’s Park this Saturday, with kick-off at 3pm, and their boss is expecting a posittive response to last weekend’s 2-0 defeat.

“It’ll be great day,” said the Edinburgh-born 41-year-old.

Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray watching his side being beaten 2-0 by Cove Rangers at the weekend (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group)

“We should have a good crowd and two teams going into the game looking for the win.

“We’ve had good travelling support, so hopefully it’ll be a good home support we get and a good game.

“I don’t see it being a particularly pretty one, to be truthful. I might be surprised but I think it’ll be pretty much blood and guts out there, which is fine. That kind of epitomises the league that we’re in.

“At Cove, there were probably about 300 or 350 of our fans, maybe slightly more. It was a really good turnout after being asked to go up there twice in a week.

“We were given full backing by them. They were absolutely great from start to finish.

“We were just disappointed we couldn’t reward them with something to take back because we know what it feels like to travel so far and then be heading back down the road disappointed.

“We’ve got a bit of making up to do to them, but I’ve full confidence in the players that we can bounce back and show everybody that we’re better than that.

“It’s always difficult away from home on the first day of the season, but we wanted to win the game, which we didn’t, so we’re disappointed.

“Our performance was OK at times, but I’m extremely disappointed with the goals we let in.

“We know it’s a tough league and it’s a tough business, but we’ll be looking to be better this weekend, and that’s another really, really tough game.”

Dundee might be the only other side besides Rovers in the second tier to have ended up without any points last Saturday, having lost 3-2 at home to Partick Thistle, but Murray believes that could make things tougher as they too will be looking to open their account for the season.

“It’s not the result Dundee would have wanted, but they had equally as hard a fixture as us against Partick,” he said.

“They’ll be as disappointed as we are. They’ll be the same, so it’s two teams that lost their opening games and didn’t do as well as they anticipated, so we’ll both be playing cat and mouse a little bit in terms of team selection and tactics.

“It can sometimes be better to play a team that’s won because you know what they’re going to do, and I’m sure Dundee will be saying the same about us.

“Dundee are a good side and one game doesn’t define your season, certainly not, and they’ll be looking, like ourselves, to bounce back and get a win.”

The ex-Airdrieonians boss says he’s been given the response he wanted ​​​​​​​by his squad​​​​​​​ since last weekend’s loss and is confident they can now put things right​​​​​​​.

“The boys have reacted,” said Murray. “Players just have to respond. That’s the nature of the business we’re in, and it’s up to me and the staff to get that out of the players.

“There’s no doubt players are prouder than people sometimes appreciate, and I’m sure we will get a reaction, and that’s all we ask for.

“We know there are going to be mistakes, we know there are going to be times in games that get away from us, but maximum effort and work-rate are what we’re after.”

Murray is still hoping to add to his squad before the summer transfer window closes, he says.

“We’ve got four players out at the moment – Tom Lang, Brad Spencer, Ross Matthews and Lewis Vaughan – so it’s very, very difficult,” he said.

“If we had them back and they were all fit, we wouldn’t be in too bad a shape.

“We’d still maybe be looking to add one or two players.

“We’ve got numbers, but we’ve got six or seven young guys in our squad without much experience. You can sometimes get away with one or two, but having so many is hard, so we need to bulk up our squad a little bit, then maybe thin it out once we see where we are.

“We’d like to add one or two, but it’s very difficult​​​​​​​, and if we don’t, then we go with what we’ve got. That’s all you can do.

“I still think we’re light at both ends, up top and​​​​​​​ at the back. In midfield we’re fairly OK.​​​​​​​

“Obviously we’ve got boys returning hopefully in the next​​​​​​​ wee bit and that’ll help us​​​​​​​, but we’d like to get a centre-back still – I think we need to – and every team in the world are looking for strikers​​​​​​​.”

Even as things stand, though, Murray reckons Rovers should be able to compete at the top end of the table.

“I think we need to get better,” he said. “It would be naive to think that so far we’ve been good enough​​​​​​​ to take ourselves up to the top end of the table, but we know​​​​​​​ football, and this league in particular, is so tight, with such small margins, that before you know it, you can find yourselves on a great run or a poor one literally just on a margin call​​​​​​​.

“We’d like to think we can get up to the top end of the league or near the top end, but we need to look at that later down the line. At the moment, we’re purely concentrating on getting our first win.”

Murray says his squad, boosted by three arrivals last week – centre-back Ryan Nolan and, on loan, fellow defender Kieran Ngwenya and striker Kyle Connell – look to be clicking in training and he now wants to see that translate into results on the pitch.

“Training’s training,” he said. “You can practise things, you can try things, but on a Saturday you can’t really legislate for goals like the ones we gave away last weekend. They were so poor.​​​​​​​

“You can use any formation you want, you can put any players out on the park that you want, but if players aren’t going to get tight to others at set-plays, it doesn’t really matter what you do.

“As poor as we were, there really wasn’t much in the game. We’ve hit the woodwork twice and we’ve lost the game on two set-plays.”

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