Raith Rovers' John Hughes 'would take play-off place' after loss to Hibs

John Hughes and his coaching staff
John Hughes (far left) took over at Raith Rovers in February

Raith Rovers manager John Hughes says he would "take a play-off place" after losing to Hibernian to remain a point above the Championship's bottom two.

The Kirkcaldy side twice came from behind to level but lost a late goal at Easter Road, James Keatings sealing a 3-2 home win with a late free-kick.

"We're going to have to be a lot more resolute," said Hughes.

"You cannot come to Easter Road and concede three goals and expect to win the game."

St Mirren - one point below Raith - host Hughes' side on Saturday when Ayr United, who are two points adrift at the bottom, welcome champions Hibs.

And, in the final week of fixtures, Raith host Ayr while St Mirren visit Hibs.

The team finishing bottom will be relegated to League One and the second bottom side will go into the play-offs with three sides from the division below.

"Right at this moment in time, I'll take a play-off place," Hughes told BBC Scotland. "We'll take our chances there.

"I think we can go to St Mirren and beat them. St Mirren are a much improved side since Christmas. Although we beat them 2-0 at our place [in March], I felt they were the better team and hopefully we can go and do that again on Saturday.

"It's nip and tuck."

Ryan Hardie scores
Ryan Hardie scored the second of Raith Rovers' equalisers at Easter Road

Hughes was upset with the manner in which his side conceded at Easter Road, with Keatings netting from close range in the first half, Grant Holt scoring from a long ball in the second and Keatings converting a stoppage-time free-kick following Jordan Thompson's handball.

Declan McManus and Ryan Hardie struck for the visitors.

"That's been the story of the season, unfortunately," added Hughes, who has been in charge of Rovers for 11 games. "I felt the boys put an awful lot of effort in, kept coming back.

"I really feel for the boys, in terms of effort, commitment. We beat ourselves. We need to be street-wise, we need to be crafty.

"I always feel we've got a goal in us but we need to keep the back door shut and that starts from the front."

Fringe players impress for hosts

Hibs made 10 changes to the side that lost Saturday's Scottish Cup semi-final to Aberdeen, with 17-year-old Fraser Murray making his first league start.

"I thought we deserved it," said head coach Neil Lennon. "We've given poor goals away but we always looked a threat.

"I had plenty of experience mixed with youth and the younger ones did their chances no harm at all.

"There was nothing on the game for us, so we could play without pressure, a luxury we haven't been able to afford.

"The rest will have done the others the world of good and I'm sure they will be itching to get back and the lads who played tonight will be buoyant."

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