Rovers will look to continue their winning start to the league campaign with their first trip to face Dundee at Dens Park since 2014. The Dark Blues have held the upper hand in recent meetings between the two sides and are currently unbeaten in their last six outings against Raith. The last win for Rovers against Dundee came in the Scottish Cup back in November 2013 with perhaps one of the most bizarre goals the club has seen in the tournament. Jason Thomson made a lung bursting run down the pitch only to be brought down outside the edge of the penalty box, and in the resulting confusion Gary Irvine knocked the ball past goalkeeper Kyle Letheren. The win saw Rovers progress on to beat Hibs and eventually lose out to St Johnstone in the latter stages of the cup. On league duty, Rovers last picked up 3 points at Dens in 1995!
The Dees have had a mixed start to their Scottish Championship season. After a mauling at Tynecastle, James McPake's squad picked up a 1-0 win at home to Greenock Morton last Saturday. The "Summer" transfer window saw six new faces join the club, the most notable of which is former Liverpool and Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam who has joined his boyhood team.
The fixture will see a return to Dens Park for centre half pairing Kyle Benedictus and Iain Davidson. Saturday's game will also offer a chance for fans to catch their first glimpse of loanee Lars Lokotsch who has agreed a deal until January.
What's your earliest memory of a game at Dens?
My brother started taking me to Dundee games in the 97/98 season to save me from a fate worse than death (Tannadice); I remember going into the old gates to the Derry that season but couldn't pinpoint the games. As luck would have it, my first strong memory of a Dundee game was the 1-1 draw at Stark's Park later that season to clinch the title, so let's go with that...! Dundee had the toughest possible start against Hearts at Tynecastle, how well did you feel the team responded against Morton?
I'd say the Morton game was doing what was grimly necessary; we still weren't firing on all cylinders or hugely convincing but we had a better shape and game plan, similar to the first 20 minutes of the second half against Hearts the previous week. McPake dropped Sow and Hamilton, too, the former being absolutely necessary and the latter being a pleasant surprise, even if the jury is still out on young backup keeper Calum Ferrie. With Forster out injured for the next month I imagine that the back three that got us into so much trouble against Hearts is consigned to history (well, for now...) which will help us keep things a bit tighter against a Rovers side brimming with verve and attacking confidence. Charlie Adam is a boyhood fan and a huge name for the Scottish Championship - how has he linked up with the likes of Graeme Dorrans and Shaun Byrne?
If I could ban Charlie Adam from holding the ball within 30 yards of our goal, I'd be so much happier. He, like Dorrans, is clearly a cut above in the second tier but has been guilty so far of overcomplicating things and needlessly losing possession in dangerous areas. The return of Shaun Byrne to the starting eleven last week at the base of the midfield diamond was therefore welcome, as it pushed Adam forward a bit and gave us a bit of insurance should things go a bit pear shaped. His dead ball delivery is brilliant, though, so Iain Davidson should maybe try to avoid any judo moves 25 yards out.... Dundee started 2020 poorly but picked up in form before the shutdown. Is there any pressure on James McPake or are the Dundee fans quietly optimistic about the season ahead?
At the start of the season I'd have said "quietly optimistic" but we're somewhere between the two now. I think fans accept Hearts' resources mean they should win the league with ease, and simply want to see Dundee keep Hearts honest and finish second with room to spare. Dunfermline could put a spanner in the works, but the bigger spanner (if I haven't mixed my analogies) is ongoing unease over McPake's team selections. Sometimes they are absolutely barmy (see the opening day) and it can make fans feel as if he's made no progress since his rookie season last year. Other than Sow, his signings have generally impressed and he's clearly got his heart in the right place when it comes to the club, but it's a results business and any more embarrassments like the opening day could make what is currently a low level grumble into a growing chorus.
Who do you feel is underrated in the Dundee squad? Shaun Byrne is underrated by the fans, Christie Elliot by the manager, and Jordan Marshall by outsiders. Byrne might not play the Hollywood passes or take stunning free kicks but that's not his job - his job is to knit everything together and solidify the team in the middle of the park and he does it with aplomb when picked. Christie Elliot has, inexplicably, lost out to Cammy Kerr the last two weeks for the right back spot; Cammy bleeds dark blue but for me, Christie Elliot is more direct and has a better final ball while being just as defensively sound (if not better). Jordan Marshall hasn't had the plaudits he deserved; he's a huge outlet for us on the left, and his stamina is remarkable.
What is your best and worst memories of games against Raith? Worst - I'm still haunted by the 2010 Scottish Cup quarter final tie at Dens. A home tie against a side in the same division as us to secure a trip to Hampden and we absolutely blew it in the opening 10 minutes. It's made worse by the fact Rovers got United in the semi - a Dundee derby at Hampden would've been magic - but also by the fact United went on to win the Cup. Of course, it was part of our general collapse in the closing stages of that season as we threw away the title, and I can't help but think a better cup run and promotion might have prevented Admin 2....however, that would mean I wouldn't have my best memory!
Best, without a shadow of a doubt, is Dundee 2-1 Raith Rovers in the "Deefiant" season of 2010/11 - aka the Neil McCann game. Throughout that season, I remember there was a fair bit of needle in Dundee-Rovers games, not least due to our financial misadventures and Turnbull Hutton's view of those shenanigans turning each game into a bit of a grudge match. Readers will need no reminder that Rovers were in the title race with the Pars that year and were 1-0 ahead, threatening to break our unbeaten run, with about 10 minutes to go. A stunning Harkins free kick to level the game has long been forgotten as a result of trialist Neil McCann's late, late winner. To this day, several of my Rovers-supporting associates can have the veins on their foreheads bulge at the mere mention of his name. It was a ludicrous match in what was a ludicrous season for us, and probably the most fun I've had following the Dee.
Thanks to Gary for being so persistent after some technical difficulties!
How to watch:
Saturday's game is available on DeeTV. "Admission" is £12.50 and the club have set up a specific PPV site for fans looking to make a one of purchase. This can be found here.
The registration process is straightforward enough. Unlike Queen of the South, you do require your card details so keep these to hand before purchasing.
Dundee haven't used Pixelot in their streaming service and appear to have based their streaming on sections for home and away fans.