Raith Rovers boss Grant Murray insists his players will not be perturbed by the artificial pitch at Palmerston when they visit Queen of the South tomorrow evening.
Rovers were one of the first teams to christen the 5G surface after it was installed in the summer of 2013, but further work was done by the Dumfries club last summer which will no doubt provide an entirely different feel again for visitors.
The fact that league leaders Hearts are the only side to have beaten Queens on their own patch suggests that James Fowler’s team are formidable at home, but the Rovers players trained on the new state-of-the-art pitch at Auchmuty High School in Glenrothes yesterday to help them get accustomed to the surface.
Murray explained: “Auchmuty have got a great surface up there and the fact we’re going down to Queens is not the only reason we trained on the pitch we’ve had this link ongoing with them and it’s great to have.
“But it does allow us to train on a very similar surface to what Queens have got.
“It’s part of the league now and at the end of the day there are a few teams who have it and you have to adapt to it.
“Whether you agree with it or not is neither here nor there.
“We played there last season in the very first game down there and I think the players found the surface quite firm, but I think they’ve altered that over the summer.
“There’s a lot of these surfaces going about now in different leagues and they are good for passing the ball.
“Some players are for it, some players prefer the grass, but at the end of the day that’s what Queen of the South have got and that’s what we’ve got to go down and adapt to.”
Rovers can close the gap between themselves and third-placed Queens to just one point with victory at Palmerston in tomorrow’s 5.30pm kick-off, and Murray reckons last weekend’s 2-1 derby success over Cowdenbeath will stand them in good stead.
“We don’t look down the way as a football club,” he continued.
“As a player or a manager, you’ve got to be positive.
“If I’m not positive it affects the players and I think we do have a positive squad and a positive changing room.
“So it was a big win for us, and looking at the fixtures as well albeit we can’t affect other teams we felt if we could pick up three points then something would give in the Hibs v Queen of the South game and it would keep us right beside them.
“When you win derbies there’s always a good feeling at the club and we were delighted to take the three points.
“But we’ve got to use our win last week to build confidence and build momentum.
“It would be great to go and put back-to-back wins together, but we do understand it will be difficult.
“Queens are a very good side, they are up there on merit and they will want to maintain that.
“It’s up to us to go down there, have a belief, play well and, looking at the way the last game went, score more goals than them.”
Rovers will still be without goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert and defender Craig Barr, although Murray is hopeful Barr will be back in action soon as he recovers from his knee problem.
“Craig’s stepped up the training and is in with us most days now,” he revealed.
“Obviously we’ve got to judge him on what he can do and what he can’t do, and we don’t want to push him.
“But I can see he wants to get back because he’s that type of guy.
“Hopefully we can get him back before the end of the year, and we can get him involved in a couple of Development League games and see where he is from there.”