SAT 7TH FEB 2004: H v AIRDRIE UNITED (SCOTTISH 2ND DIVISION)
For those of you offended by words like pish and shite, then please look away now, as you may find these words used often below.
Man, what a bad bad game, performance and result. There is nothing at all positive to take from today's game from an East Fife point of view, apart from the defence held them to only one goal, but whether that was due to stout East Fife defending or poor Airdrie finishing is up for debate.
Buoyed by a great 6-3 win for the B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. fan team in the morning, optimism was running at a high as we headed to Bayview. It wasn't to last long.
The only change from the starting eleven from last week, was James Herkes coming in for Johnny Mitchell. There was no place for Brian Fairbairn on the bench, whether this was due to an injury or Brian's desire to wander around the stands like a cross between a 50's racing car driver and Richard E. Grant, is still unknown.
After a minute's silence for Ally McLeod (RIP), the game fell into a pretty dire, lacklustre affair, with Airdrie looking the more threatening. There was nothing much to report, apart from woefully slow serving at the pie stall (how long can it take to serve five people ahead of you and fetch you two fucking pies?! Over five minutes is the answer!). This changed after 28 minutes, however, when Craig McMillan was forced to make a goal-line clearance after a powerful header from an Airdrie corner - as if we hadn't seen enough of those last week! The Fife were nearly caught out from exactly the same move seconds later, but Gary O'Connor saved at the feet of an on-rushing Airdrie attacker.
There had been a few heavy Airdrie challenges in the early proceedings which went unpunished, so it then came as no surprise when Kenny Deuchar was then booked after 29 minutes for his first challenge of the game and proceeded to get a further talking to for dissent.
East Fife had their first chance on 33 minutes, with a deflected shot going for a corner. The resultant corner, saw Kenny Deuchar alleged to have fouled in the box, with the Airdrie fans calling for a red card. At this stage, with the refereeing decisions going the way they were (yes, I know, more biased AFTN match reporting blaming the officials!), it looked unlikely that Kenny would make it to the end of the 90 minutes.
Tempers flared with around five minutes of the half remaining when Airdrie's Stephen Docherty basically assaulted Brian Blair, with a high foot whacking Brian off the head. Amazingly, the referee not only didn't book the wee scumbag, he didn't even talk to him.
A minute late, a long through ball saw the usually rock-solid Greig McDonald weakly head back to Gary O'Connor, which was intercepted by Owen Coyle, but Mathie managed to get back with a fine tackle to prevent Airdrie taking the lead. This situation was to last only four minutes though, when the defence stood off the dangerous David Dunn, allowing him to hit what didn't even look a particularly hard shot, low to Gary O'Connor's left for 1-0 to Airdrie.
It was nearly two seconds later when McLaren ran on to another through ball, but Gary O'Connor saved well.
Going in to half-time, it didn't look promising for the second-half, with Airdrie looking the better team and despite some hard tackles going in from them, they tried to play some decent passing football, whereas East Fife just looked totally devoid of flair, skill and imagination.
The second half started in a similar vein, with Jimmy Herkes being booked for an innocuous foul five minutes in. A minute later, Kenny Deuchar beat the offside trap on the left, but ran the ball to the bye-line before firing in a low drive instead of what looked to be the better option of cutting it inside.
Just past the hour mark, a quick passing breakaway from Airdrie ended up with them winning a free kick right on the bye-line on the left hand edge of the box. The free kick fell to the ever dangerous Dunn and his fierce shot was blocked for a corner, the result of which saw Gary O'Connor make a good save from an equally powerful McManus header.
With the game looking like it was going to just fizzle out to a 1-0 defeat, it suddenly sprang into life in the last fifteen minutes, in what is starting to look like the new trend down Bayview way.
First there was what was arguably the best bit of skill of the match, when Owen Coyle found himself with the ball and his back to goal just inside the East Fife box, before beautifully turning and chipping just over both O'Connor and the bar.
There then followed what one fan described as "a momentous occasion" when Paddy Kelly won a tackle. This was just to be a brief respite to the Airdrie attack, however, when Dunn was again allowed to get a shot off, this time shooting just wide.
Then, with eleven minutes remaining, the second momentous occasion of the afternoon - East Fife's first shot on target! Jay Stein ran through the middle, then in circles, before the ball eventually fell to James Herkes, who cut inside before firing in a strong shot from the edge of the box, which McGeown did well to hold.
After being fouled unnoticed for what seemed like the whole game. Kenny Deuchar finally won a free kick 25 yards out for the Fife with seven minutes left. As an air of anticipation and shouts of "don't fucking shoot from there" echoed round Bayview, Jay Stein it a woefully poor free-kick straight at McGeown, which I think even I could have held!
With two minutes left on the clock, Airdrie pushed forward looking for the second killer goal and they nearly got it from a corner, when McLaren fired a fierce drive along the goal-line and it was missed by everybody, with Veraille coming inches away from making contact at the far post.
East Fife still had a couple of chances to tie the game up though, as it headed into stoppage time. Greig McDonald raced through, but a last ditch tackle and flattening from the Airdrie defender forced a corner and McDonald to go off after treatment. As the corner sailed in, it fell inside the six yard box onto the completely unmarked Brian Blair's head. It was then evident as to why the Airdrie defence didn't bother marking him as it basically just bounced softly off it into the keeper's hands, as Kenny Deuchar went mental at him.
A few minutes later and it was all over, leaving some very important questions.
Questions like, why did we not bring on Johnny Mitchell to run at a defence that looked likely to foul him and get us a penalty? Why is Brian Blair getting a game every week? What has happened to Paddy Kelly's skill? How the fuck are we going to get out of the mess that we are in? And where are goals going to come from?
A pretty damning and negative report I know, but a few more games like today's and we're not going to have room to fight back. The Arbroath game in two week's time is now vital.
EAST FIFE: O'Connor, McMillan, Hall, G. McDonald, Mathie, Kelly, Herkes, Blair, Deuchar, Stein, Donaldson (Stewart 68) Subs (not used): Graham, Gilbert, Lumsden and Mitchell
AFTN MAN OF THE MATCH: JAMES HERKES. Primarily for effort, as he ran endlessly, but he did also have our first shot of the game - albeit after 79 minutes!!
Another East Fife attack comes to nothing
Ooh, and another!
Look how close we came and how worried their keeper looks!