No letting up by Barry Smith ahead of League One opener

There will be no experimentation by the Rovers gaffer Barry Smith in the remaining matches against Buckie Thistle and Cowdenbeath in the BetFred Cup.

Smith, looking back on his first pre-season as Rovers gaffer said:

“Pre-Season is all about getting fit and getting to know certain things. We are happy with the wins but it was all about building a solid foundation as we knew the first two BetFred Cup games were going to be difficult – against a side who is tipped to win the Championship and a side who are probably going to be battling for the top 6 in the Premiership, so we knew it was going to be tough.”

With Ross Callachan being announced as the new captain of the Kirkcaldy club, he has a big mantle to fill after taking over from long-term Raith player Jason Thomson. Smith, however, can see the benefits of this move already.

Ross is still relatively young and he has still got things to learn in the game but he has the drive and enthusiasm to improve as a player. I feel the club are seeing those benefits already.”

Speaking about the quickness of the new signings settling in, mith told jordanburtfootball.com:

I think it is clear in the games we have played that there are good signs with the strikers linking up. We are also happy with the support they are getting from Lewy Vaughan and Bobby Barr (as well as the other guys who have came in). Euan [Murray] hasn’t played in his prime position of centre-back yet but he has equipped himself really well. We do need a left-back and Kevin [McHattie] is in training with us just now. He has a slight knock but if that clears up, everything should be OK in about a week or so.”

Looking over the two BetFred Cup games so far, Smith said:

We are obviously disappointed with the two results, but, the performances probably merited more than what we got out of the games. The boys worked very hard, so, there is a lot of positives to take but also a lot of things to work on too. We’ve been really happy with the work-rate and the shape of the team, but, when it comes down to it, we have to start winning games and we will hopefully do that over the next two matches. It was very frustrating losing a goal so late on, but the boys had done well to get back into the match so late on too: the boys were disappointed but they know they’ve been in the match for large spells against a Premiership club and they didn’t look out of sorts. We will continue working hard and trying to improve as a team at either end of the field as with that, we will hopefully start winning games.”

After a 7-day break, Raith are now back in action this evening.

When there are 5 teams in the group, you always knew the schedule was going to be intense at some stage but that you’d also have a chance to refresh and work further with the group so I don’t think it matters when we got the time off, to be honest. All it does is allow us to be extremely fresh heading up to Buckie. These games are never easy but you expect that if you do the right things – with the work-rate and the effort, that you can control the game, but that can only happen if the players do their jobs properly. We want to score a goal early as that’d then allow us to go out there and express ourselves but if it doesn’t happen, the players need to stay patient, keep the ball, move the ball quickly and hopefully we will get the rewards from that.”

Despite Raith being unable to qualify out of the group, Smith will not be letting up ahead of the league season beginning on the 5th of August.

We will be playing our strongest team over the next two games to make sure we are ready for the Alloa game. I knew Craig Easton had done a great job with the youths last season and if they are good enough, they’ll get their opportunity. It is just about them continuing their standards that they have set at the moment to give themselves the best opportunity to play in the first-team.”

Smith’s final words to supporters travelling up to Buckie tonight were:

“The fans have been brilliant since I came in. They see the work-rate and effort the players are putting in, on the pitch, and that will be rewarded if the fans continue to get behind the guys on the pitch because this is a season we want to be in ascendancy.”

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