BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Louis Longridge reckons the camaraderie at Raith Rovers is just like Hamilton under Alex Neil as the Fifers aim to emulate the Accies’ playoff heroics.
The 25-year-old was part of Neil’s unfancied side which secured a Premiership place in 2014 by defeating Falkirk 2-1 on aggregate before seeing off Terry Butcher’s hapless Hibernian.
Longridge played 35 times during that campaign, scoring nine goals, and firmly believes the bond in the dressing room was key to their promotion against all the odds.
He sees echoes of that team spirit when he looks around a Raith squad which has racked up seven games unbeaten, including a win over Hibs and a 3-3 draw against the Gers.
He recalled: “I think the spirit is what benefitted Hamilton when we got promoted. The manager made sure that we were so close and tight-knit. I can see the same environment at Raith Rovers.
“Everyone gets along and they all want to battle for each other on the pitch. Everybody has each other’s backs so it will be important going into the play-offs that you know you can count on the man beside you whenever they are called upon.
“It is more about the dirty side of the game, so to speak, the hard work. Those are the little things that help you grind out results. You know they guy next to you will do that.
“So there are definitely similarities at Raith from the time at Hamilton in that regard. When you get into the play-offs if you just work hard you never know. It is a bit of a lottery on the day and you just hope you can win.”
Longridge joined Rovers on loan until the end of the season in January after falling out of favour with boss Martin Canning, making 15 appearances in the top-flight this term.
With his contract at New Douglas Park set to expire in the summer, he admits his future is shrouded in uncertainty. Nevertheless, that has not affected his performances for the Fifers, illustrated by a sensational goal against Rangers last weekend.
And, thanks to teammate Scott Robertson, he is acutely aware of his parent club slipping towards that dreaded 11th spot in the Premiership.
He continued: “It would be a strange situation for myself if Raith got to the play-off final and it could be Hamilton they would meet.
“Scott Robertson brought that to my attention not that long ago. I have tried not to think too much about it, though! There is still a lot of football to be played yet.”
Should this season mark the end of his Accies career, he admits Raith Rovers would be a tempting option after thriving in Kirkcaldy.
He added: “I am really enjoying it at Raith. All I am focusing on is the football at the moment and hopefully helping Rovers win promotion to the Premiership. Raith would be an option if they offered me anything.”
With a 13 point lead over Queen of the South in fifth-place, Raith are all-but secured a top-four berth, but avoiding defeat at Palmerston Park today would cement the spot.
Longridge added: “Mathematically, it is not guaranteed at the moment, but the players are all confident that we will get over the finishing line because of the form we have been in.”