Match Preview Ayr United vs. Raith Rovers Ladbrokes Championship Saturday 6th August 2016. Kick-off 3pm
The Championship season kicks-off on Saturday with Raith Rovers the visitors to Somerset Park. Buoyed by a successful Betfred Cup campaign, Ian McCall’s men will be looking to get off to a winning start to life in Scottish football’s second tier against a side who finished fourth in the league last season, putting together a 11-match unbeaten streak to reach the promotion play-offs where they were narrowly edged out by Hibernian.
Raith Rovers started the season with 2-1 victories over Cove Rangers and Montrose in the Betfred Cup and then picked up a bonus point after shoot-out success in Dingwall. However, the Rovers failed to progress to the next round after defeat at home to Alloa Athletic left them on eight points – not good enough to claim a spot as one of the best runners-up.
Team News: Craig Moore and Brian Gilmour are injured and unavailable.
Ian says:”We have worked really hard to get here so it’s a game we are hugely looking forward to. Raith are an established Championship side which is what we want to be however I don’t consider them any bigger a club than us. First league game of the season never loses its excitement and having it at Somerset is even better. I am really hoping for a great home support and their backing from the terracing is going to be crucial to us this season.”
The Opposition: Former Kilmarnock and Hearts manager Gary Locke was appointed to the Starks Park hotseat in the summer following the departure of Ray McKinnon to Dundee United and will be assisted in the dugout by Darren Jackson. One of the headline signings of the close season has been 37-year old Czech midfielder Rudi Skácel – a player revered by Hearts fans, he is in line to make his Rovers debut on Saturday. Also joining up with the the Fife club are French defender Jean-Yves M’voto, who started his career with PSG; striker Declan McManus; Bobby Barr – a thorn in United’s side during his time at Albion Rovers and Morton – and Prestwick-lad Chris Johnston following his release by Kilmarnock.
Head-to-Head: Ayr United wins – 48 Draws – 43 Raith Rovers wins – 47
United are unbeaten in the last 5 meetings between the sides and have lost just one of the previous 11 encounters.
The last meeting between Ayr United and Raith Rovers was in March 2012 at Starks Park. Brian Graham opened the scoring for the home team in the 13th minute but was ordered off seven minutes before the break after an altercation with Ayr’s left-back Eddie Malone. A Mark Roberts penalty and Malone free-kick put the Honest Men ahead but the home side netted a last minute equaliser through Argentinian striker Damian Casalinuovo.
Raith’s last visit to Somerset Park was on Boxing Day in 2011 and ended level, Jonathan Tiffoney equalising John Baird’s opener.
Referee – Euan Anderson
Assistant Referee 1 – Sean Carr
Assistant Referee 2 – Willie Ferguson
Adults – £17
O.A.Ps & Students – £10
U16s – £5