FRI 21ST JULY 2006: A v BRANDON UNITED (Pre-season Friendly)

East Fife kicked off their Durham pre-season jaunt with a trip to play Northern League Division 2 side Brandon United - a club with the hardest to find ground (and town!) we've ever seen!!!

The Northern League is the second oldest football league in the world but the hospitality shown to us over this weekend was second to none.

Brandon are hoping to install a plastic pitch soon and for their sake, the sooner the better as the pitch was in a terrible state and very dry from the sun.

The first half was very one-sided as East Fife dominated proceedings and were playing some nice passing football as well.

East Fife opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Ryan Blackadder played a perfect cross in from the left and John Martin hit in a powerful shot from ten yards out from an acute angle and with the aid of the bar.

14 minutes later and the lead was doubled and it was Martin again. Outrunning the Brandon players from a defence-splitting through ball, he coolly curled the ball around the advancing Brandon keeper from just inside the box. 2-0 Fife.

Moments later and John could have had his hat-trick when he had a free header which flew over the Brandon bar.

With 38 minutes gone, Scott Crabbe nearly made it three but his effort went inches wide.

With two minutes of the half remaining a three man Fife move on the goal-line failed to result in the ball ending up in the net and Brandon cleared!

So half time and a 2-0 lead against a young and outclassed but constantly trying Brandon side.

The second half started in the same vein and it was only two minutes old when East Fife had another chance. Excellent work outside the box from Gary Kelly saw his cross come shot flash across the Brandon goal but an outstretched John Martin just failed to connect from 8 yards out for what would have been his first East Fife hat-trick.

The third East Fife goal was proving elusive, despite the constant pressure, and Neil Jablonski ballooned a good chance over on 51 minutes.

But the Fife and John Martin weren't to be denied.

As the game approached the hour mark, Ryan Blackadder hit the byeline and cut the ball back brilliantly for John to hit home his and East Fife's third.

With a three goal lead, the game died a little but East Fife made it four on 71 minutes when Kevin Gordon cut in from the right and hit a 30 yard shot which the Brandon keeper went down on and somehow helped into the net. 4-0 Fife.

And that was pretty much it. Neil Jablonski had a lobbed effort ruled out for offside and Brandon had a late spell of pressure which was easily coped with by John Dodds and the Fife defence.

An excellent start to their north eastern tour then and the team seemed to be gelling together really well and playing some nice football as well.

After the game the fans and players and officials mixed in the Brandon social club and the hospitality shown from the Brandon guys was excellent and it would be nice to repeat this for them at some point in the future. The Dave Baikie and the East Fife players (and officials it has to be said) were excellent too. Chatting away to the fans and it's nice to get back to looking forward to the season on the pitch again.

The social club normally stays open till 11 at the latest but stayed open till midnight to allow us to chat and attempt to play pool, even phoning taxis for those that needed them. Top guys and gals.

FINAL SCORE: Brandon United 0 - 4 East Fife

(Starting line up) - Dodds, Smith, Courts, J. Smart, Doyle (subbed), Kelly (subbed), Jablonski, Mitchell (subbed), Martin, Crabbe, Blackadder

(Subs used) - Gordon, Fortune and D. Ross

(Kerriann apologises to Greig McDonald for forgetting his Trust POY trophy!)

(The biggest arse at East Fife?!)

(The Down With Brown campaign goes to new, naked lengths! - Just who are the mystery men?!!)

(So how do you celebrate your first East Fife hat-trick? By playing dominos of course!)

(The fans, players and officials enjoy the excellent Brandon hospitality)