BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Raith Rovers boss Ray McKinnon insists there are no hard feelings between him and Rangers counterpart Mark Warburton following the fractious build-up to last week’s clash at Ibrox.
The fixture was given extra spice when Rovers demanded SFA compliance officer Tony McGlennan investigate any possible breach of rules by the Gers after they jetted young striker Ryan Hardie back early from international duty.
Raith were irked because they travelled to Ibrox without on-loan attacker Craig Wighton, who remained with the Scotland under-19 set-up in Bulgaria, while Hardie returned to Glasgow.
Rangers subsequently hit back, accusing the Fife club of “besmirching” the reputation of assistant manager David Weir – who manufactured Hardie’s return, according to Raith statement – and demanding an apology.
However, when the dust settled, McKinnon is adamant there was no lingering animosity from the saga surrounding Hardie, who entered the fray as a 70th-minute substitute.
The Rovers boss said: “Mark was brand new after the match and we chatted away, so that was great. As far as I’m concerned, that [controversy] is done and dusted and we are looking ahead to the this weekend.
“There was no problem with Mark. It would have made no difference whether they had Ryan Hardie or not, with the quality throughout their team, they were that good.
“It might have made a slight difference to how we played if we had Craig Wighton but, looking at how the game panned out, I doubt it would have changed the outcome.”
Rovers were left licking their wounds after the trip to Ibrox, with goals from Lee Wallace, James Tavernier, Barrie McKay and a Martyn Waghorn.
However, McKinnon believes the gulf in class between Warburton’s men and the rest of the division ensures there will be no hangover from that result when Queen of the South visit Stark’s Park tomorrow.
He added: “If they play the way they did on Saturday, Rangers could go through the season unbeaten.
“If you are really organised and get a lot of luck – and they have an off-day – then they may get beat.
“But if they play the way they did against us and Queen of the South, then you wouldn’t bet against them going through the season unbeaten.
“Hopefully we can get back to winning ways on Saturday and that would represent a good start to the season.”