Raith Rovers chief executive Eric Drysdale explains the departure of Gary Locke as search begins for new boss

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

RAITH ROVERS chief executive Eric Drysdale insists there was no choice but to dismiss Gary Locke after a 14th successive match without a win saw them slip alarmingly close to the drop-zone.

Locke and his assistant Darren Jackson were sacked following Tuesday evening’s 1-0 defeat against Morton, which left the free-falling Fifers just four points above Ayr United in the relegation playoff position.

Rovers have not tasted victory since October 29 and, despite creditable performances against the likes of Dundee United, Hibs and Hearts during that run, Drysdale and his fellow board members decided a change of management was required.

However, the Rovers CEO had nothing but praise for the methods of the axed duo – who replaced Ray McKinnon at the helm last May – and cast aside any suggestion that they had lost the dressing room.

Drysdale said: “Gary and Darren both worked very hard to professionalise the football side here and brought in things like sports scientists and video analysis – which we haven’t had before – and their match preparation was excellent.

“The dressing room was fully behind both of them and I’ve never seen a set of players so visibly upset as the Raith players were at the final whistle on Tuesday.

“Sadly, everyone that is involved in football knows it is results-driven and, with no wins since October, ultimately there was only so long that could be allowed to continued.

“We played very well in some games, including against Dundee United and almost beating Hibs at Easter Road, but after the New Year there were a series of defeats that lead to Tuesday’s decision.

“Tuesday was such an important game because, had we won, we would have been back up in sixth place and within touching distance of fifth.

“That would have got things back towards the top half of the table. But, another defeat has increased that gap and is another game gone. We felt a change had to be made.”

Raith’s head of youth development, Craig Easton, has taken temporary charge and will oversee training in the coming days.

However, with the Fifers not in Scottish Cup action this weekend, Rovers do not have a fixture until they welcome Hibs to Stark’s Park on February 18 – a hiatus that they will use to step up their search for Locke’s successor.

It is understood that, as of lunchtime on Wednesday, the amount of credible applications for the post was already approaching 30 and the Raith board will convene to begin discussing their options before the end of the week.

While it is their aim, Drysdale cannot say with certainty that they will have a new man in place before the visit of the Hibees.

He continued: “It is difficult to say when we will be able to make an appointment but we are moving as carefully, yet as quickly, as possible to progress matters. The board have already organised to meet to discuss names and look at CVs that have come in. We’ll take things from there.”

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