Easter Road provided Raith Rovers with their best days out last season but, as the Kirkcaldy club return to the Capital ground seeking a hat-trick of victories, boss Grant Murray today insisted they do so as underdogs yet again.
Raith stunned Terry Butcher’s Hibs by knocking them out of the Scottish Cup and then shocked Rangers by beating the Glasgow outfit in the final of the Ramsdens Cup, leaving Murray’s players on cloud nine.
But as happy as their memories of their two previous visits to Easter Road might be, Murray insisted today’s clash with Hibs will be an entirely different proposition with Alan Stubbs’ side having their eyes fixed on hauling themselves back into the Championship title race.
Murray was at Ibrox on Monday night to witness first hand the Hibees demolition of Rangers and he believes that win – and the manner in which it was achieved – will have given the confidence of Stubbs’ players a massive boost.
Admitting he never envisaged returning to Easter Road this season on league business, Murray said: “I think it’s maybe taken Hibs a wee bit of time to adjust. They went into Monday night’s match second bottom but are now fifth and that will have given them a lift.
“They’ll now want to go on a wee run and build a bit of momentum. To go to Ibrox and score three goals by half-time would give any team confidence and we know we’ll have to be at our best.”
Murray is reasonably happy with the start Raith have made themselves, the Fife club having lost only to Hearts and Rangers – both by 4-0 scorelines at Stark’s Park – in their opening seven matches and go into today’s match two points ahead of Hibs.
Stubbs’ side may have made a less assured start to life in the Championship than those two clubs, but Murray insisted that doesn’t make them any less dangerous opponents.
He said: “No-one ever expected to see Hearts, Hibs and Rangers, three massive clubs – Premier League sides – battling away in the Championship. They don’t want to be here but it’s fantastic for the players at clubs like us.
“You want to be play in these games, to test yourself against the best and each time you play one of them it’s like a cup final. Easter Road is a great stadium to play in, we’ve got happy memories of our last two games there – but this one will be entirely different.
“The Hibs players who are still there from last season will want to rectify what happened and the only way they can do that is by winning games. The expectation among the Hibs fans will be that their team kicks on having had such a fantastic result at Ibrox.
“We realise it’s going to be tough. I’d expect Hibs to come at us and try to score reasonably early, but while we are the underdogs we’ll be trying to win the game as well.
“We’ve had a reasonable start to the season. The Hearts and Rangers games were difficult and we were punished for every mistake, but we’ve done well in other matches. We’ve won at Alloa, Cowdenbeath and Livingston – we’ve kept three clean sheets in away matches – so while Hibs will be a big test, we’ll be aiming to give a good account of ourselves.”