Raith star believes semi-final play-off pressure all on Dundee after making hash of Hearts title challenge

After recovering from Covid-19 and battling back following a succession of serious knee injuries, Lewis Vaughan is hardly going to start fretting about a high stakes play-off battle with Dundee.

Raith Rovers striker Lewis Vaughan (L) checks with the linesman before celebrating his latest goal against Dunfermline on Saturday (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

The striker is relishing being back in the team and back on the scoresheet. His goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Dunfermline set the Stark’s Park side on the way to victory. Gozie Ugwu’s late strike tied matters up and booked a clash with Dundee, who Raith host in the first leg of a Premiership play-off semi final on Wednesday.

The Fife side comprehensively beat Dundee at home in January. Jason Cummings’ debut for the visitors was overshadowed as Raith came from behind to win 3-1.

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The last meeting between the sides just over a fortnight ago finished 2-1 to Dundee but a repeat of these scorelines this week would see Raith progress to the final.

Vaughan is raring to go but did stop to indulge in a spot of psychological warfare with this week's opponents. He believes the Dens Park side are operating under extra pressure after a disappointing season in which they failed to apply any pressure on champions Hearts.

In fact, although they finished third in the end, it was Raith, along with Dunfermline, who gave the Tynecastle side a bigger challenge. Dundee only sneaked into second on the last night of the campaign, meaning they have had an extra week to rest.

"It won't be easy,” said Vaughan. “They pipped us to second place and they've obviously got the second leg at Dens Park too, but we look forward to it. We've nothing to lose because the lads have done amazing to get into this position so let's see how we do on Wednesday.

“Maybe they will be a bit fresher,” he reflected. “But we are professional athletes so I don't see that as an excuse. I don't think their rest will be of that much benefit to them. Our confidence is high after that result. We can take that into Wednesday.

"I would say the pressure is on Dundee because they are the bigger club and they were expected to challenge Hearts for the league. I would definitely say the pressure is on Dundee. We have nothing to lose."

Vaughan has already lost a large chunk of his career to injury and is desperate to make up for lost time. "I'm ambitious and I know when I was out injured and things weren't going for me that it was only a matter of time before I did come back and score goals,” he said.

"I stayed confident. I knew my time would come. I want to test myself at the highest level and hopefully that's with this club. I have just signed a new contract so I would be delighted if I could help to get Raith Rovers into the Premiership."

Meanwhile, Raith announced over the weekend that they have appointed Karen Macartney as the club’s new chief executive. She will start with immediate effect.

“Significant progress has been made at Raith Rovers FC this season, especially the team’s outstanding performance in the SPFL Championship,” said Macartney. “Furthermore, we have a great platform upon which to continue to build Raith Rovers in the community, while continuing to support the other members of the Raith family.”

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