Manager Robí di Lathamé was celebrating doubling his wages to £2,500-a-week as a reward for making a solid start to life in the Scottish Premiership.
The first thing he did was to sell his crappy car and invest in a brand new Jaguar F-Type, because the one time he’d met Jose Mourinho at a petrol station in Chelsea he was driving one (and that’s a true story, by the way). The second thing he did, was buy a new set of golf clubs ready to hit Kirkcaldy Golf Club on Wednesday afternoon.
With that done, he set about plotting how to maintain his side’s decent start and go about continuing to build “something very impressive.”
Pushing into the Premiership
Dundee United were up in fifth in the league but we started well as Folarin Balogun opened the scoring but then missed a penalty and, of course, they got back into it with a last minute equaliser. Annoying, but a very good point.
We then earned a 0-0 at Motherwell and could even have nicked all three points. And we consolidated our solid start with a 3-1 win at home to Livingston, in which Jordan Elliot scored his first of the season then our strikeforce of Balogun and Ryan Cassidy both scored. That lifted us up into the top half in 6th place on 11 points.
We then came really close to upsetting Hibernian with another Balogun goal, only for another late goal to hold us to a draw. But that form came to an end with defeats at Dundee and Aberdeen, which took us into a 60 day gap between matches as the Winter World Cup took over.
We came back from the break with our toughest match yet, away to Rangers. We unsurprisingly lost 4-0 against a team that has at least seven players who earn more in a week than our entire weekly wage budget!
Much more important was the game at home to St. Johnstone, which looked to be ending in a 1-0 defeat. However, I threw on young striker Billy Doig and he not only scored his first league goal for the club to equalise on 89 minutes but bagged his second in the third minute of injury time!
We followed that up with a 2-0 win at home to fourth-placed Hearts. They absolutely dominated us by 24 shots to 7, but centre-back Zach Medley headed home his first league goal for the club then Doig was at it again as he brought down a Ross Munro clearance and spanked home a shot from 30 yards.
And we backed that up with a 2-1 win over 10th-placed St. Mirren. Medley scored again then Balogun wrapped up the three points with 20 minutes remaining. That saw us open up a huge 13 point gap to the relegation zone.
Winger Glenn Middleton had seven injuries in his entire career before joining us, but he’s already had a further seven in the last five months. Ridiculous! Without him, we lost 3-0 at Dundee United then earned a solid 1-1 draw at Motherwell with ten men.
A big game at 11th-placed Livingston saw us go two goals down just before half-time. But a stern talking to at half-time saw Doig drag us level, then substitute Daniel MacKay scored his first Raith goal to equalise. And that man Doig doubled his tally to complete an impressive turnaround! This moves us 14 points clear of Livingston in the drop zone after 18 games.
Facing all the top four
Bizarrely, our first Premiership clash with Celtic came in our 20th match of the season, and we then faced them twice amid a spell of six matches against the top four. Interestingly, it looked like Celtic’s 11-year domination of Scotland was coming to an end as Rangers were 10 points clear at the top.
Celtic scored three goals – all scored by players earning at least double our entire weekly wage budget – in 11 first-half minutes and won 3-0. We did well do to draw 0-0 at home to fourth-placed Dundee, who then knocked us out of the Scottish Cup.
We then put in easily the best performance of this entire save so far as third-placed Aberdeen came to town. They absolutely battered us in the first-half but couldn’t find a way past Munro, who made eight saves. To counter that, I dropped the defence deeper and reduced the pressing. And somehow, something clicked.
We’d had three shots to their 18 when Balogun got free in the box, rounded the keeper and gave us a totally undeserved lead after an hour. Six minutes later, Middleton scored on his return from injury, then Doig added a third two minutes later. Three goals in eight minutes had us 3-0 up! Aberdeen got one back so I upped the time wasting, and Doig bagged another late on to seal a brilliant 4-1 win!
However, we then faced the ridiculous situation of playing Rangers at home on Sunday and Celtic away on Tuesday. We put in a solid performance to only lose 1-0 against Rangers, who only managed to score off a corner. Then an exhausted team put in another great effort at Celtic, in which we were 3-0 down but Balogun scored a late brace to make it interesting.
First point against the Old Firm!
Five of our next six league games were away from which, which doesn’t make any sense! In the one home game we were absolutely shocking in a 3-1 defeat against Dundee United, then earned a solid 0-0 at Motherwell, before another comeback at St. Mirren. Cassidy opened the scoring to end his 11-hour goal drought, they went 2-1 ahead, then Cassidy scored in the 87th and 90th minute to seal a hat-trick and a 3-2 win!
His strike partner Doig, who we signed from Curzon Ashton for £24,500 in January 2022, has now become a transfer target for Celtic as well as Arsenal, Man United and Tottenham! And he is now starting to look pretty good, although the interest has culminated in a mini goal drought.
We edged a massive game at home to Livingston, in which goals from Jake Cain and 18-year-old midfielder Enrico Donati’s first for the club sealed a tight 2-1 win. That moved us 15 points clear of them with three games remaining until the Premiership splits in half.
And that gave us the confidence to claim a massive result as a Cassidy brace inspired a 2-2 draw in a game in which we “faced the impossible” at Celtic – the first time we’d taken points off the Old Firm.
We lost 3-2 at home to Hibs, with Cassidy bagging another brace that helped him win the March player of the month award, then lost to a 96th minute winner at Dundee in the final game before the Premiership split with us sitting in eighth place.
Premiership Relegation Group
Raith Rovers avoided relegation in the very first game of the Premiership Relegation Group. We welcomed bottom of the league St. Mirren and raced into a two-goal lead inside six minutes through Cain and Dylan Tait’s first-ever league goal after 90 matches for us.
A good end to the season could see us top the relegation group, but we weren’t helped by falling 3-0 at Motherwell. But we bounced back to defeat Dundee, who were four points ahead of us in seventh, 2-1 with Middleton scoring both to double his tally for the season. The season closed out with a 0-0 at Livingston then we threw the youngsters in and beat St. Johnstone 2-1 with goals from Donati and Doig ending his 13-game goal drought.
That ensured we finished the campaign in a solid eight position in the Scottish Premiership, an impressive 19 points clear of the relegation zone and just 11 points away from European qualification!
Join us next time as we look back on an exciting first season in the Scottish Premiership!