'We've not been up to it': Ahead of Friday's SPFL Trust semi-final against Airdrieonians, Raith Rovers ace Callum Smith explains Rovers' poor record against The Diamonds this season
Despite the Kirkcaldy side’s lofty league position, a pair of 1-0 defeats at the Excelsior Stadium – sandwiched between a 1-1 stalemate at Stark’s Park – are all they have to show from matches against Rhys McCabe’s side so far this term.
"I can't put my finger on why Airdrie have been such a tough opponent for us," ex-Airdrieonians star Smith, 24 – whose team have lost their last four competitive matches - told the Fife Free Press. "Obviously they're a very good team with a good manager. They're a hard team to play against, they've shown us that this season.
"I know them inside out from being there last season. They play a nice style of football.
"Generally in the times we've played them, we've just not been up to it. We've not been good on the day which is weird because we've not really been like that this season.
"A couple of the times we've played them we haven't been at our best and it's probably the worst we've actually played.
"I don't know why but we've just struggled against them this season. But hopefully we can try and change that this time.
"Obviously we want to beat them. We want to beat everybody but having lost to them twice already, we probably don't want to get beaten again off Airdrie.
"Especially with it being a semi-final as well. It's going to be a big occasion and we want to go and try and get to a final.
"Obviously they are wanting to get to a final as well so it will be a good game and we're really looking forward to it."
Raith go into the game with strong ambitions of winning a tournament they were runners-up in last season after losing 1-0 to Hamilton Accies in the final at the Falkirk Stadium. That defeat on March 26 last year was a particularly sore one for Raith to take as Accies defender Dan O’Reilly was sent off early in the second half but Ian Murray’s team still couldn't equalise Reghan Tumilty’s first half goal despite creating and missing several good chances on a day featuring an inspired display by Accies goalkeeper Ryan Fulton.
"All the players who were here last season always said that they were gutted about losing that final," Smith added. "I remember watching it and Raith probably were the better team in the final and deserved to win.
"So all the boys will be desperate to try and go one better this time and try and win it.”
On home advantage boosting Rovers’ chances against Airdrieonians, Smith said: "The Raith fans have been brilliant this season, home and away they have been bringing really good numbers.
"Playing this game at Stark's Park will probably go in our favour. The fans are always right behind us, even during the last two or three weeks when we've not been great.
"They've stuck by us, always stayed to the end and clapped us off. All the boys really appreciate that."