John McGlynn is adamant Raith Rovers’ triumph over Hearts last season is proof that they cannot afford to underestimate Ayr United — despite the Covid travails at Somerset Park.
The Honest Men have not played a competitive fixture since August 21 and the entire first-team squad only returned from a 10-day period of isolation on September 1.
That preventative step — which followed six of Ayr’s players testing positive for the virus in the last three weeks — resulted in the postponement of their Championship fixture with Rovers on August 28.
The game will now take place tonight at 6 p.m. (in order to avoid clashing with Scotland fixture with Austria), kicking off a run of four games in 12 days for David Hopkin’s charges.
However, Raith boss McGlynn does not expect Ayr to be adversely affected, drawing parallels with their own breathless 3-2 win at Tynecastle in January.
That victory came hot on the heels of the postponement of a scheduled encounter with Inverness due to a Covid outbreak at Stark’s Park.
“We know Ayr had a Covid situation recently,” said McGlynn. “This will be their first game back after that.
“We know ourselves that we did very well in a game against Hearts after coming back from having Covid within the club — so we need to be aware of that.
“There’s no doubt that it’ll be a really tough game. Hoppy [David Hopkin] will have the team really fired up for the game and we’ve got to match that.
“Both clubs want points on the board in order to kick on the league campaign.”
Tait and smile
Meanwhile, Dylan Tait has earned praise from McGlynn following a fine showing in his first outing since sealing a six-figure switch to Hibernian on deadline day.
He will remain on loan at Stark’s Park until January and it was evident during Saturday’s 1-0 SPFL Trust Trophy victory against Forfar Athletic that his focus will not waver.
“Hopefully we can get the best out of Dylan between now and January. He was extremely good on Saturday,” continued McGlynn.
“Dylan is an action man. He is involved in the game all the time, so he won’t get everything right, every single time — but he got the vast majority right on Saturday and that’s all you can ask.
“His attitude was good and he worked extremely hard.”
Tait’s midfield colleague Blaise Riley-Snow also earned plaudits after scoring his first ever goal for the Rovers to seal their progress at the weekend.
“I thought Blaise did really well in midfield — and got the goal, which is icing on the cake for him,” McGlynn told Raith TV. “But his all-round performance, beyond that, was really good alongside Dylan and Ross Matthews.”