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4 Raith Rovers talking points: ‘Get the finger out’ message as John McGlynn’s revamped Fifers impress

Ethan Ross celebrates his stunner
Ethan Ross celebrates his stunner

Raith Rovers’ winless run extended to four matches following a 1-1 draw against Inverness on Saturday.

However, this was their finest performance in a month. Perhaps longer.

Raith had enough chances to add to Ethan Ross’ opener, while a Reece McAlear thunderbolt was required to restore parity; little could have been done to mitigate that moment of magic.

Ben Williamson and Sam Stanton have settled seamlessly, Jamie Gullan made the first appearance of his fourth stint at the club and Rovers moved to within three points of leaders Arbroath.

With the Lichties due to visit Stark’s Park this weekend, the positives vastly outweighed any negatives.

Courier Sport analyses the Rovers talking points following a fine showing in the Highland capital.

‘A rude awakening’

The plethora of options available to John McGlynn has allowed him to indulge in some tough love.

“We’ve added real quality and have big options — it means guys are going to have to get their fingers out,” said the Rovers boss.

“It might have been a bit too easy for one or two of them. Standards dropped and we dropped points. It’s a rude awakening.”

Jamie Gullan is one of three new arrivals

The Kirkcaldy outfit now have sufficient depth to leave the likes of Dario Zanatta and Aidan Connolly among the substitutes; vital performers earlier this campaign.

That duo — and many others — will undoubtedly have a huge part to play in Raith’s promotion push, but the message is clear: competition for places has never been more fierce at Stark’s Park.

Goal drought over

Ross’ stunning solo strike against the Caley Jags halted a run of six matches without a goal from open play.

Such records do not tend to perturb McGlynn.

He has been coaching long enough to know peaks and troughs are inevitable.

Even amid their widely heralded efforts of last season, Rovers endured a sequence of failing to find the net in four out of five fixtures during February and March. It happens.

Slightly more concerning, however, was the dearth of chances being created in recent weeks.

That was assuaged on Saturday. Casting aside Ross’ sumptuous effort, Ross Matthews, Aaron Arnott and Reghan Tumilty all threatened during a far more vibrant, incisive showing.

This was far more like it.

Stanton hits the ground running

The former Hibs and Dundee United midfielder already looks an inspired capture by Rovers.

Stanton has brought composure, quality and tenacity to the base of the Raith midfield, ably filling the void created by Brad Spencer’s unfortunate broken leg.

Stanton battles for possession

The 27-year-old is adept at coolly collecting possession from his defenders and instigating attacks.

Moreover, he is sufficiently mobile to drop a shoulder and burst forward under his own steam.

Given these are the formative days of his stint at Stark’s Park, fans have every right to be excited with what is to come from Stanton.

Patience pays off for Frankie Musonda

As well as myriad personnel combinations, McGlynn can now call upon a tactical versatility arguably unparalleled in the Championship. Few teams shake up their shape as often as the Fifers.

On Saturday, it was a 3-5-2, affording McGlynn the chance to play Ross just off Ethon Varian in attack and bring Frankie Musonda into a back three.

It was a first Rovers start since the 0-0 draw at Arbroath on December 4 for Musonda.

And he can be content with a solid display that, but for McAlear’s magnificence, would have heralded a stoic clean sheet.

A consummate professional and guaranteed to be ready when called upon, Musonda’s quality and adaptability will prove pivotal before all is said and done this season.

Frankie Musonda ‘jumping ship’ amid Raith Rovers’ title challenge? “No chance!”

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