SATURDAY 30TH APR 2005: H v ALBION ROVERS (SCOTTISH 3RD DIV)
It was all change for the East Fife starting eleven for the last home game of the season.
With Michael Renwick and Brian Fairbairn suspended, in came Kevin Bain in to the centre of defence, with Craig Lumsden moving out to fill the right back role and, at long last, young John Ferguson was given a run to see what he could do.
Having administered a six goal thrashing just weeks ago, optimism was high amongst the Fife faithful of finishing the home season off with a bang. It was Albion Rovers that started off with the bang though, taking the lead with only a minute of the game gone.
A long ball forward saw Craig Lumsden attempt to head the ball back to John Dodds in the Fife goal. The header was short and Dodds didn't particularly look like he wanted it. This allowed young Ian Douglas to nip in between the two and hit home. 1-0 Albion Rovers.
The loss of an early goal spurred East Fife into action and Johnny Mitchell went on a good run out left before cutting in a good cross from the bye line which Albion keeper Chris Fahey managed to parry and the Rovers defence cleared before John Ferguson could pounce.
Albion nearly responded immediately and came close to adding a second as Dodds came rushing out to the edge of the box and missed his bizarre attempt to head the ball away, with the ball thankfully running out to safety.
An exciting start to the game and it continued as East Fife found the equaliser with 7 minutes gone.
John Ferguson got the ball wide right and unleashed a terrific strike which Fahey saved. The rebound fell to Mitchell and he made no mistake from 8 yards out to make it one apiece.
The excitement continued with Albion Rovers next to threaten on 12 minutes, but Jered Stirling hit his low free kick straight at Dodds.
East Fife hit right back, with Lumsden delivering in a dangerous curling ball into the near post which Mitchell's head just missed connecting with.
The action started to falter as both teams struggled to keep up with the frantic opening minutes.
John Ferguson showed a head ahead of his years and won a corner for the Fife with 26 minutes. Gavin Beith hit a great ball in across the face of the goal which Fahey and six Albion Rovers defenders all contrived to miss and it rolled out of play for a goal kick.
Five minutes later and the Rovers were a threat themselves from a corner, the ball eventually falling to Douglas, whose curling 20 yard effort soared just wide.
This was the last real action of the half, with the only other point of note being Jim Mercer stupidly picking up a booking for trying to palm the ball in to the next from a Rovers corner with two minutes of the half remaining. A folly which was to later prove costly.
So, the excitement couldn't keep up and after the early flurry, the teams went in to the interval all square at one apiece.
As has so often been the case this season, the second half was a disappointment as both sides struggled to string any attacking moves together at all.
East Fife had the first chance of the half two minutes in when Greig McDonald headed a Mitchell cross from the right wide of the post from an unmarked position in the middle.
As the hour mark approached, Dodds produced the save of the game to tip over Mercer's powerful header from Stirling's free kick.
There then followed the highlight of the half when Chris Silvestro accidentally clobbered referee Ian Fyfe, leaving the man in the middle needing treatment. Shows you how bad the half was really when this was the highlight!
Mitchell went on a good run midway through the half, but Fahey easily saved his low shot, then Lumsden had a good chance saved from a side footed effort.
As the game drew to a lifeless conclusion, East Fife won an indirect free kick in the box following a backpass, but couldn't take advantage.
With seven minutes remaining, Albion were reduced to ten men when Mercer picked up a second booking for clobbering Ferguson on the far touchline. The big Rover seemed to feel harshly treated, but it was a clearly bookable offence.
The sending off seemed to spur Albion into going forward but it was the Fife that had the better chances to win the game first seeing an effort scrambled of the line, then watching on as substitute Les Byle saw his screamer fly inches wide from 25 yards out.
Beith then had the chance to snatch the three points at the death, somehow heading over the bar from a sitter of a position 4 yards out. He should have burst the net, but instead he burst the beak of a passing pigeon. Says it all about the season we've had really.
As the final whistle came and eighth place was consolidated, the roar of indifference around Bayview wasn't so much deafening as non existant. Ninety minutes to go, then we can all start to enjoy our Saturday afternoons again. Can't wait.
C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 1 -1 Albion Rovers
EAST FIFE: Dodds, Lumsden, Brash, Bain, Mathie, G. McDonald (Byle 77), Ferguson, Kelly, Nicholas, Mitchell, Beith Subs (Not Used): Morrison, Boyle, Duncan and Tarditi
3 points - JOHNNY MITCHELL (looked totally up for it. playing for a contarct for next year?)
2 points - CRAIG LUMSDEN (apart from the early hand in the Rovers goal, played very well in an unusual position and put in some good balls)
1 point - JOHN FERGUSON (understandably fell away a little in the second half, but good to see him get a starting chance at last)
[For another report on the game and stats, check out the EAST FIFE MAD site]
[For more pics of the games check out Brian Lawson's THEFIFERS.CO.UK site]