Blaise Riley-Snow has been inspired to take his game to another level following Raith Rovers’ recent showdown with Celtic.
The towering Englishman lined up in the heart of midfield against James McCarthy, Tom Rogic and David Turnbull during the Premier Sports Cup quarter-final last month.
The Hoops ran out 3-0 winners at Parkhead but Rovers did themselves proud with a gutsy display — particularly after going down to ten men following Dario Zanatta’s red card on the hour-mark.
Riley-Snow made a positive impression in the early exchanges and had a couple of super tussles with Turnbull.
Although he — like many of Rovers’ players — faded slightly after the break, it was learning curve he will cherish.
“I feel blessed that I got the opportunity to play that game,” Riley-Snow told Courier Sport.
“It was a huge learning opportunity and I feel like I understand more about what the next level really is — and what I need to do to get there.
“The speed of play is the key difference. Everything is that few steps faster. The speed of movement; of thought. It is all done more quickly.
“If you watch the game, when the ball goes out of bounds, it immediately comes back and they are working on the next phase of play. You can tell they are a well-drilled, intense side.
A first Celtic goal for Jota! 🍀
And what an assist that is from James McCarthy 🤤 pic.twitter.com/OrtREymy0A
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) September 23, 2021
“I don’t think it’s impossible to reach that level but you have to be focused and driven — and that’s my goal.
“I understand that I need to keep working hard and improving to show I can do even more.”
That defeat at Celtic Park was during a hectic run of four Championship fixtures, from which Rovers claimed 10 points from a possible 12.
John McGlynn’s men are now nicely ensconced within the playoff positions.
Riley-Snow added: “Hopefully we can keep progressing and will be in better shape when we next play a team like Celtic, maybe in the Premiership next season!”
However, attention now turns to Rovers’ SPFL Trust Trophy campaign and their local derby showdown with League One strugglers East Fife on Saturday.
Rovers are technically the reigning co-holders of this competition after their 2019/20 final against Inverness was cancelled due to Covid and the trophy shared.
The tournament did not take place the following year.
And Riley-Snow, who joined Raith in the summer following two-and-a-half years in the Spanish fifth tier with Universidad Alicante and Alicante City, is relishing a realistic pursuit of silverware.
“I love the fact that Scotland has so many cups,” he continued. “In Spain, we only had the Copa del Rey — and we weren’t likely to reach the latter stages!
“This competition gives us a real chance to compete for a trophy and win something.
“We are giving East Fife a lot of respect. We’re taking it just as seriously as every other game.
“We’ve done thorough analysis and want to keep the momentum we have built.”