John McGlynn has delivered glowing verdicts after Blaise Riley-Snow and Ethon Varian made their competitive debuts for Raith Rovers.
The Rovers boss pitched Riley-Snow straight into the starting line-up to face Livingston on Wednesday — just 48 hours after his capture was confirmed.
The powerful midfielder turned in a heartening 70-minute showing, despite visibly tiring prior to being replaced.
However, his eye for a pass and raw physicality was plain for all to see — particularly when he went shoulder-to-shoulder with Andrew Shinnie in the second period, almost sending the Lions playmaker into orbit.
“I thought Blaise did really well. He is exactly what I’m looking for,” beamed McGlynn. “He will get more confident and the players will get more confident in him.
“He is physically strong — everyone saw his challenge over on the flank [with Shinnie] — and is a very powerful boy. I thought his passing was excellent too.
“Blaise hasn’t been here long, and it has been a period of game-after-game since he arrived. He hasn’t really done a pre-season and we need to get some work into him to get up to speed.”
Ethan Varian: asset
Republic of Ireland under-21 international striker Varian entered the fray with 20 minutes left and immediately put himself about, even becoming embroiled in some handbags with Jack Fitzwater.
The Stoke City kid also showed admirable bottle to slam home his spot-kick, even as Rovers succumbed 6-5 in the shootout following a 0-0 draw.
“Ethan [Varian] coming on was a real positive for us,” said McGlynn. “He has come up late and also had an injury towards the end of last season.
“That took him a lot of time to get back and there’s the fact they start a lot later than us down in England — they weren’t back in training until the end of June.
“But Ethon has done a little bit of training, a lot of rehab and he is only going to get sharper as he gets match fitness.
“He got us up the park on Wednesday, He’s an 18-year-old boy but was winning headers against [Ayo] Obileye, [Jack] Fitzwater and [Tom] Parkes, who are giants. Ethon caused them problems and will be an asset to us.”
Despite Livi claiming the bonus point, Raith still top Group D with seven points, one clear of Fife rivals Cowdenbeath and two ahead of the Lions. If they beat Alloa on Saturday, they are in the last-16 of the Premier Sports Cup.
McGlynn added: “It’s in our hands. We go into the game knowing that if we win, that’s it. I’m pleased to be in the driving seat — that was the aim when this stage started.”