Raith Rovers vs. Ayr United
Ladbrokes League 1
Saturday 9th September 2017. Kick-off 3pm
On Saturday, Ayr United travel to the Kingdom of Fife looking to wrestle top spot in League 1 back from high-flying Raith Rovers. United’s unbeaten start to the league campaign ended at home to Arbroath at fortnight ago will be looking to return to winning ways in this clash between the League 1 favourites.
Former Dundee, Alloa and East Fife manager Barry Smith was the man Raith Rovers turned to in the summer to lead them back to the Championship after their eight year stint in Scottish football’s second tier came to an end in May. A strong start to the season sees Rovers sit top of the table with 10 points from 4 games, a record which saw Smith collect the Manager of the Month award for August this week.
Raith have won their last five games in league and cup, scoring 18 goals and conceding just once. Lewis Vaughan – who spent last season on loan at Dumbarton – has scored in each of his last nine appearances, 13 goals in total for the season, and was unsurprisingly named August’s League 1 Player of the Month. Vaughan along with strikers Greig Spence and Liam Buchanan – both summer signings – and Bobby Barr make for an impressive attacking line-up which United will do well to keep quiet on Saturday.
Team News: Jamie Adams, Ross Docherty, Paddy Boyle and Craig Moore are all definitely out. Robbie Crawford and Alan Forrest have a 50/50 chance of making it. Lawrence Shankland goes straight into the squad.
Ian says: “We have had a break since our last match and it’s unfortunate that we have picked up some crucial injuries however it gives an opportunity to some of the other players that have been knocking on the door. We will still have a strong team out there and it’s a game we are really looking to. Raith are flying just now so it will be a very tough match however we had started the season very strongly until a couple of poor results last week and we go there with confidence.”
Head to head (League):
Ayr United wins – 49
Draws – 44
Raith Rovers wins – 49
United have a decent record in recent years at Starks Park, losing just twice in their last 11 visits.
Last Meeting: There was no lack of drama in the four Championship matches between Ayr United and Raith Rovers last season, with both clubs battling against each other to avoid relegation. The sides met on the opening and final games of the campaign, with Rovers winning both. A 2-0 victory at Somerset Park in August 2016 kick started a positive start for Gary Locke’s side it wasn’t to endure much longer than a month and while the Kirkcaldy side’s 2-1 win in May 2017 – a match which saw their Slovak keeper Pavol Penska sent off in just the fourth minute – ensured it was the Honest Men who would finish the season bottom of the league, Rovers, under the direction of John Hughes would quickly follow into League 1, losing to Brechin in the play-offs.
The other two fixtures between the sides were both played on a Tuesday night; it was 1-1 at Starks Park in November, with both sides finishing with 10 men while Ayr picked up all three points at Somerset Park in February.
In total Rovers fielded five different goalkeepers in four games against Ayr, including midfielder Ryan Stevenson in the 1-0 reverse at Somerset Park.
On this day: in 1978 Ayr United and Raith Rovers played out a goalless draw at Starks Park. Six years earlier The Honest Men defeated Kilmarnock 1-0 at Rugby Park.
Referee – Alan Muir
Assistant Referee 1 – Brian Templeton
Assistant Referee 2 – Craig King
Adult – £15
Concession (12-16, Over 65) – £8
Junior (Under 16, accompanied by full paying adult) – £5
Full Time Student & Jobseekers – £10 (must be purchased at ticket office)
Disability & Carer Concession – £8