BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Ray McKinnon hopes Ryan Hardie can keep delivering on Rangers’ promise the teenager would score goals as Raith Rovers seek to clinch a play-off spot.
The Stark’s Park outfit host Queen of the South tonight enjoying a four-point gap in fourth place in the Championship following Saturday’s crucial 4-3 victory over St Mirren.
Hardie took his tally to four goals in three games since joining on loan from Rangers with a stunning hat-trick at the weekend that ensured Rovers are now in pole position to secure the remaining play-off berth.
And McKinnon is thrilled with the impact the highly-rated 18-year-old has made as he bids to guide his team to a shot at promotion.
He said: “Ryan’s young, he’s enthusiastic, he’s got great energy and he can score a goal. Long may that continue, that he’s in good form and he can keep hitting the target.
“He’s only 18 and he just seems to take everything in his stride. He’s just so cool in front of goal and that in itself is an art, to have that composure in front of goal.
“Goal-scorers are worth their weight in gold. Rangers told me he scores goal and that’s exactly what he’s done for us in his last two games.
“He’s definitely got a big future.
“We went through a spell there, when we had a lot of injuries, that we couldn’t put the ball in the net. We created chances but we couldn’t score.
“Luckily now, we are creating a few chances and we are starting to convert them, so hopefully things are turning for us.
“Hopefully he can continue with his goals.”
Having failed to win in their previous six games, Raith have defeated Livingston, Morton and St Mirren in their last four outings, the latter two hugely important in the race for fourth.
And, with Queens currently occupying fifth place, McKinnon acknowledges this evening’s encounter could be key yet again.
He added: “If we can get another three points from this game it would be massive.
“We know they’re a good side, they’ve just beaten Hibs, and they’re right beside us, so it will be a really tough game.
“At this minute in time it’s just about digging out results and getting points on the board.”