Lewis Vaughan is in the mood to make some history over the next 17 days.
If Raith Rovers are to win promotion to the Premiership, they must achieve an unprecedented feat of consistency and endurance by navigating three rounds of playoff ties.
Since the system’s inception in 2013/14, no team has ever managed to successfully run that gruelling gauntlet after finishing in third place in the Championship.
Only Rangers and Dundee United have even managed to reach the final from that position, losing to Motherwell and Hamilton respectively.
Then again, this is a shortened campaign — clubs in the second tier played 27 regular season games, compared to the 38 that Premiership sides will complete — and fatigue may not be the deciding factor it once was.
Records are made to be broken and, given the circumstances, this would seem like the perfect opportunity to crash through that glass ceiling. As Vaughan says during his chat with The Courier: ‘Why not?’
“We’re going to do it the hard way,” acknowledges Vaughan ahead of Saturday’s visit of Dunfermline. “It’s never been done — Hamilton and Livingston were both second when they got promoted through the playoffs — but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it.
“Making history with Raith Rovers sounds good!
“This is our first season back in the Championship and hasn’t always been easy; missing out on second place was disappointing. But if you had offered anyone at Rovers third place at the start of the season, we would have taken it.
“We’ve been up there all season and we are at this stage on merit. The boys deserve to be there. We’ve played good football, scored good goals and are approaching these games with confidence.
“Hopefully, we can do the business and look forward to the Dundee game.”
Speaking of history, Vaughan wouldn’t mind it repeating itself this weekend.
The mercurial forward scored a brace in March’s 5-1 demolition of the Pars, while he notched a hat-trick in a 3-0 Scottish Cup triumph in January 2019.
Fife derbies at Stark’s Park agree with the 25-year-old.
“I wouldn’t mind it going exactly the same as the last home game against them — but I don’t think it’ll be that easy this time,” he laughed. “I’ve scored a few goals against them in the past and it’s an occasion I enjoy.
“These are the games you want to play in; local derbies, big rivalries. So, I’m looking forward to another one.
“It’s really unfortunate that there are no fans there for it — I’m sure it would have been a sell-out and jumping at Stark’s Park — but the players still know exactly how big this is for the supporters and the community.
“We’ll do all we can to get the right result for them.”
A mouth-watering tie — the biggest all-Fife showdown since the rivals were fighting for the First Division title in 2010/11 — is tantalisingly balanced at 0-0 following a thoroughly watchable first leg at East End Park on Tuesday.
Vaughan had the best chance for the Rovers in the second half but saw a powerful drive saved by Owain Fon Williams. Otherwise, the Pars had the lion’s share of the chances and Raith were content to live to fight another day.
“We would probably have taken 0-0 from the first leg if you had offered it and, going back to Stark’s Park, we feel quietly confident,” he added.
“We’ve had good home form throughout this season — the pitch suits the way we want to play — and although it won’t be an easy game, we believe we can get the right result.”
Once through to the semi-final, where Dundee await, Raith could truly begin to dream of Premiership football; a stage on which Vaughan would undoubtedly have performed by now, if not for three devastating cruciate knee ligament injuries.
“You want to play at the highest level you can — I’m no different to any player with that,” added Vaughan. “I’ve signed a new contract and I’d love to be playing Premiership football next season. There’s no reason why I can’t do that with Raith Rovers.”