TUES 16TH MARCH 2004: H v DUMBARTON (SCOTTISH 2ND DIV)
No frost tonight to put the match in jeopardy - just a hurricane! This time, though, the Dumbarton fans who made the long journey through from the west, actually got to see a game of football. And it was a game that the Fife fans will quickly want to forget, for despite carving out a number of chances, we somehow left the match empty handed.
With a same starting line-up as Saturday, with Mathie making a quick return from the injury that forced him off early against Berwick, it was never going to be a pretty game in the conditions. In the end, it was just plain ugly (see picture below!).
Dumbarton had the best of the early possession and took the lead with a bizarre goal after 9 minutes. Steven Bonar gave the Sons fans a hard-on when he collected the ball on the edge of the Fife 'D'. Trying a spectacular wind-assisted shot, he seemed to stub his toe in the ground and the ball trundled forward eight yards to the totally unmarked Iain Russell in the box and he easily slotted the ball past Gary O'Connor for the opener. A dreadful goal, dreadful marking and the start of a dreadful evening.
East Fife started to come into the game now and should have grabbed an equaliser after 18 minutes, in a scene that wouldn't have looked out of place if the Keystone Kops had acted it out. A passback to Dumbarton keeper Stephen Grindlay was pounced upon by Kenny Deuchar and Brian Fairbairn. Kenny tackled the keeper and the ball bounced off the keepers legs straight into Brian, only for the ball to bounce off him and smack off the post, leaving Brian bent over in the box in disbelief. Surely this wasn't going to be another Forfar?!
Seven minutes later and another dangerous Fife attack saw Fairbarin hit the ball just over from an excellent Craig McMillan cross. Minutes later and East Fife should have had that long awaited penalty when Kenny Deuchar seemed to have his legs whipped away from him (ironically on the penalty spot) as he prepared to shoot, but referee Tumilty (yes, that numpty) waved play on.
The Fife weren't going to be denied though and just after the half hour mark, Brian Fairbairn made up for his earlier miss when he pounced on a goalmouth scramble to fire the Fife level from close range, after Sons keeper Grindlay had fumbled the ball. That's all I can really say about the goal as it was a choice of watching the goalmouth melee or watching a very drunk old Fife stalwart try to walk up the stair whilst holding a pie and a bovril. Sadly I picked the wrong option at the time!
That was pretty much the end of the first half action, but it was looking good for the second half. Well, in theory.
The second half started and it was pretty dull stuff. Any nice football that the Fife had been playing in the first half totally disappeared and the midfield went awol yet again, with Kelly, Herkes and Bain all having mares and Dumbarton having more of the ball and attacking flair, whilst not really threatening.
It was on the hour mark when the first real effort on goal eventually happened and would you adam and eve it, it was only from a Paddy Kelly thunderbolt! Paddy picked the ball up outside the Dumbarton box and rifled in a 25 yard shot that the keeper couldn't hold, but he managed to recover the rebound before Kevin Bain reached it to keep the scores level.
The Fife faithful thought we had taken the lead on 68 minutes when Kenny Deuchar converted a lovely cross in from the left, but the linesman (who to be fair had his flag up as soon as the ball was crossed) ruled the goal off for offside. Nice finish but sadly still level though.
Dumbarton nearly took the lead themselves three minutes later when, for some bizarre reason, Jimmy Herkes step over a cross into the box and let a Dumbarton player rifle in a volley that Gary O'Connor did very well to hold.
East Fife replied by going up the pitch and seeing a Jay Stein effort rattle off the bar and over, with the keeper beaten.
With the game drifting in to the last quarter of an hour, Kenny Deuchar found the ball at his feet inside the box, but he couldn't shake off the two Dumbarton defenders to get in a clean shot and when he did manage an effort, it went easily wide, although there was another penalty claim from the challenge on Deuchs as he got his shot off, but again this was waved away.
It looked like another point for the Fife but Dumbarton had other ideas and with five minutes to go, a long speculative ball from defence found substitute Gordon Herd and he easily outpaced the remaining Fife defence (which was far too easily split apart) and fired a curling shot past Gary O'Connor for 2-1.
There was no way the Fife should have been behind, but to rub further salt into the wounds, fellow sub Chris Boyle hit a beautiful 20 yard screamer into the bottom right hand corner a minute later. A shot which seemed to see Paddy Kelly jump out of the way as it headed towards the net.
As the stadium emptied, Kevin Bain had the last chance of the game on basically the final whistle, wasting a free kick from a good position.
The final whistle went, the boos resounded and three points were dropped and Arbroath gained a vital away point against Forfar to cut the gap back to four points with a game in hand.
The commitment from some players was not there tonight. It was an awful team performance, with very few passmarks. Too many players looked out of sorts (still tired from Saturday perhaps), but the midfield has to have some bite about it and we need to get Greig McDonald back there asap. The defence that was once solid is now leaking like a sieve and we have Kenny Deuchar resorting to trying to win the ball in his own half to try and set up attacks, whilst Fairbairn, one of the players looking like he's trying, getting taken off when the worst culprits are left on. Unbelievable stuff and a real worry that we're going to survive through this. We CAN play good football. We CAN play passing football. Why aren't we?
Two tough games coming up. We need points. C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 1 - 3 Dumbarton
EAST FIFE: O'Connor, McMillan, Donaldson, G. McDonald, Mathie, Bain, Herkes, Kelly, Deuchar, Fairbairn (Mitchell 74), Stein Subs (not used) - Graham, Lumsden, Blair, Gilbert
AFTN MAN OF THE MATCH: KENNY DEUCHAR. Tried like a bear, was fouled a lot, had a disallowed goal, showed some of the commitment and desire to win seemingly lacking in others.
Kenny's Night Shifts Take Their Toll
Deuchar's Offside Goal - Bastarding Linesman
Stein's Effort Rattles Off The Bar
The Players Partake In Their Own Spot The Ball Competition
The Ugly Side Of Scottish Football!!!