Raith Rovers captain Jason Thomson admitted that he was ashamed by the team’s performance in the 5-0 defeat to St Mirren on Saturday.
Raith had a chance to secure their Championship status with a win in Paisley but instead they are now staring at the prospect of a relegation play-off unless results go in their favour next week.
And with jobs on the line at Stark’s Park, both on the playing side and in the club office, it was the manner of the defeat which upset Thomson most.
“The whole situation is just totally embarrassing,” he said.
“I was in at the club last week, and it was maybe a bit tongue and cheek from the staff, saying ‘make sure I don’t lose my job’ – but it’s becoming a reality, and it’s not nice. I know them, I’ve been here a long time and I’ve got relationships with them.
“It’s livelihoods on the line and I’m certainly aware. We need to stand up and be counted now.”
Raith should be safe from automatic relegation as bottom club Ayr United would need to win by five goals at Stark’s Park on Saturday to overhaul the Kirkcaldy side.
However, Rovers will only avoid a relegation play-off if they beat the Honest Men and St Mirren lose at Easter Road on a day when Hibs will be presented with the league trophy.
“It’s a little lifeline that many will say we don’t deserve, but we have it and we’ve got to take it,” Thomson said.
“We need to keep the heads held high and stay positive.”
Raith were without defensive midfielders Iain Davidson and Ross Matthews and a lightweight midfield was simply picked apart by a rampant St Mirren.
The rout started on 27 minutes when defender Jean-Yves M’voto failed to deal with a high ball and Cameron Smith set up Stephen Mallan to fire home.
It was 2-0 on 39 minutes when Mallan’s 25-yard free-kick took a wicked deflection to deceive goalkeeper Pavol Penksa as it spun into the net.
Any hopes of a second-half comeback were wiped out inside three minutes as Rory Loy stabbed home St Mirren’s third after Gary McKenzie nodded down a Mallan corner. Raith made a triple substitution bringing on three attackers – Jonny Court, Mark Stewart and Ryan Hardie – but it made little difference as Mallan got his hat-trick and St Mirren’s fourth with a spectacular strike finding the top corner from 30 yards.
Most of the 450 travelling Rovers fans had already started their journey home when Lewis Morgan added a fifth in the dying minutes after star man Mallan set up the chance.
Raith boss John Hughes pulled no punches in his assessment of the display.
“Society nowadays is totally different to when I was growing up,” he said.
“I don’t know if they care. If that is them fighting for their lives, then we need to have a right good look at ourselves.
“They need to come in next week and ask themselves if they are going to bring a street fighting mentality to the game against Ayr, and if they do, we’ve got a chance.”