REACTION: Campbell thrilled with Kirkcaldy comeback
Arbroath manager Dick Campbell was delighted as his side picked up a vital point after coming from two goals down to draw against Raith Rovers in their Scottish Championship meeting on Saturday. Cameron Wanstall reports.
Despite having a mountain to climb at Stark’s Park following a Dan Armstrong double, the Red Lichties rallied to stun the hosts. Jack Hamilton scored a sublime volley before defender Ricky Little excellently executed a true forward’s finish to snatch a point.
The result means that Arbroath remain in eighth place, ahead of current relegation play-off spot occupants Greenock Morton on goal difference, and eight points clear of fellow part-timers Alloa.
Arbroath manager Dick Campbell was in a particularly cheerful and entertaining mood after his side’s comeback. One overheard conversation did stick with him until after the game, however.
“I don’t know how many times we’ve done that this year. I heard there were two Raith Rovers players saying, ‘Why are we wasting time against a part-time team?’ That’s a silly thing to say.
“It was a game of two halves. I’m absolutely delighted to score two goals late on against a full-time team. We made a load of changes, we went three at the back – not a lot of people would do that… I thought we deserved at least a point.”
Campbell was pleased with his team’s second half performance, but was less inclined to praise the refereeing performance of Gavin Duncan.
“I don’t think the referee was magnificent towards us, I can assure you.” Campbell said, before joking with a beaming smile. “I’ve just apologised for my one or two chats to him!”
Getting back to the game itself, Campbell was quick to both criticise and praise his players.
“The second Raith goal, I could’ve thrown my bonnet on it! It wasn’t a great goal, it was a mistake from my goalie’s point of view. But I’m just proud of them. I’ve got a good dressing room and good players who give me their lot – and they did that today.
“I’m sure the Arbroath fans will be happy with that as well.”
Lack of Goalscoring Threat
Frustrated by his side’s attacking display, Campbell lasted less than thirty minutes perched high in the stands before marching down to the dugout to bark orders at his players instead. The Arbroath boss did have plenty plaudits for the man of the moment: Ricky Little.
“He is fantastic. He’s been here since I’ve been here; he travels up from Ardrossan to Perth and I could count on my hands how many times he’s missed training.
“I told him to take a day off a couple weeks back and he appears on the Wednesday night. I say, ‘What’d you no take the day off for?’ and he says, ‘I’ve got plenty time when I finish, gaffer, to take a night off.’ His attitude is absolutely magnificent.”
However, despite throwing praise at a centre-back whose first goal this season saved the side on Saturday, Campbell did accept that the club must look into signing a natural goal scorer after yet another game lacking in chances.
“Bobby Linn gets 15 goals last year; he’s got two this year. I mean, how do you replace 15 goals? It’s unbelievable. I don’t think we created a lot today, it is on my mind a bit… We’ll need to address that in the summer.”
Arbroath FC: Established in the Championship?
With Ayr United still in reaching distance and Greenock Morton continuing to underperform, Arbroath are in control of their own destiny heading into their final fixtures. Campbell insists the team are battling as best they can to remain in the second tier.
“Three big games to come: Ayr United and Morton at home, and Dunfermline away from home. It was no surprise to me today Morton and Ayr getting something. We’re playing for our lives. Don’t take anything for granted. Arbroath’s playing to stay in the league.”
On the difficulty of being a part-time club in a full-time league, Campbell admitted that this season has been more challenging than any before and feels sorrow for fellow relegation battlers Alloa.
“It was always going to be the hardest season of my career, you’ve no got the ‘surprise package’ anymore. Arbroath are no longer a surprise package. I’ve had full-time teams playing five at the back against us. And four in the middle. It’s a credit to our ability.
“I felt so sorry last night for Alloa – don’t forget Alloa is the only part-time team that’s remained in this league. People forget that. They should be commended for what they’ve achieved. And I felt really sorry for Peter (Grant) last night because I don’t think they deserved to get a doing like that.
“But they’re no out of it yet. They could win three games, they done it last year mind. I’m telling you, don’t write them off. That includes myself, I’ll no be writing them off!”