SAT 2ND OCT 2004: A v ELGIN CITY (SCOTTISH 3RD DIVISION)
Remember when we thought we'd beat Elgin City for fun? When we took a large travelling army up to Borough Briggs, sang our hearts out, abused the badger and then went home happy? Ah, how those days have gone and times have changed.
Coming off two heavy defeats against teams at opposite ends of the money scales, it was hard for fans to feel optimistic going in to the game and it only took four minutes for the pessimism to prove founded.
Elgin defender Paul Kaczan played a long ball into the box and found Willie Martin who easily scored from close range.
Elgin dominated proceedings and came close on a couple of occasions before doubling their lead with a cracking strike with 20 minutes gone, when James McKenzie rifled in a 30 yard free-kick which gave Scott Morrison no chance in the Fife goal.
With young centre half Sam Linton being stretchered off after 34 minutes, East Fife looked out of sorts and out of the game and, as half time approached, looked like a team needing an interval.
The game then exploded to life in a mad couple of minutes right on the break.
East Fife's Kevin Steele and Elgin's Allan Dempsie went for a 50-50 ball. Steele was seen by many to have gone in right over the top of the tackle, injuring both himself and Dempsie in the process. The Elgin bench were incensed and came bounding on to the pitch. Scuffles ensued and a punch was seen to be thrown. Steele came off the worst and was stretchered off to the dressing room, where he was later to receive a red card and reduce the Fife down to 10 men.
A favourite East Fife chant of old was "ten men, we only need ten men" and so it was to prove to be the case once again, when from the re-start following the flashpoint, James Herkes beat the offside trap and fired home a great effort to send the Fife in at the break 2-1 down and with a mountain to climb, but showed they did at least possess some bouncebackability.
Whatever Jim Moffat said to the players at half time seemed to inspire them and they came out all guns blazing in the second half.
Derek Colquhoun had a great chance to level things up just two minutes in, but Kieron Renton saved well from point blank range.
Elgin then had a chance to increase their lead when Les Byle was forced to clear a corner off the line.
East Fife were surprisingly starting to control the game, as Elgin kept giving the ball away and Gary Kelly was pushing forward more and more, but it was perhaps a case of wrong man in the box at the wrong time, as he volleyed two efforts high and over from good positions.
Phil Reid was proving to be Elgin's main threat, involved in most of their attacks, and he was put through on 62 minutes but stumbled as he raced onto the through ball, allowing Morrison to collect.
Kelly found himself in another good position inside the Elgin box, but was just inches away from connecting with Brian Fairbairn's cross, then minutes later Derek Colquhoun latched on to a long ball over the top of the Elgin defence but ended up shooting well wide.
Although East Fife were enjoying the better of the possession, and certainly not looking like the team that had just ten men, the chances started to dry up, but with seven minutes remaining they had a great chance to level when James Herkes brilliantly ran onto a ball into the back of the box, but his header went just over from a tight angle with seven minutes remaining.
It certainly wasn't looking like being East Fife's day and a minute later the misery was compounded when assistant manager Kevin Bain was sent off for dissent after reacting to a bad tackle on him with a verbal assault of referee Alan Freeland, who, let's face it, deserved all he got as he had a terrible game.
It was a straight red for Bain, quickly followed by a yellow for Fairbairn and Kelly was lucky not to be joing Bain in the changing rooms, as he avoided picking up a second yellow despite letting rip at the ref. For a player in Bain's position though it was a bad sending off, but kind of understandable.
To their credit East Fife still went looking for the equaliser, forcing a couple of corners and a free kick, but they all came to nothing and as the final whistle sounded, I personally couldn't help thinking that the referee's performance and the discontent aimed at him had probably saved Jim Moffat another ear-bashing from the Fife faithful, but surely a few more defeats like this and the fans won't be so kind.
On the plus side, it was a battling second half performance that had more passion and fight than all of the other games this season. More of the same is a must and should be a given. We still don't look like putting the ball in the net much though.
We now have a break and let's just hope that once we re-start the season we can somehow turn things around from being the second worst team in Scotland.
C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: Elgin City 2 - 1 East Fife
EAST FIFE: Morrison, Renwick, Brash, Lumsden, Linton (Bain 34), Byle, Herkes, Kelly, Fairbairn, Colquhoun, Steele Subs (not used)- Duncan, Logie, Crawford and Condie
Based on what I saw and what I heard!
3 points - JAMES HERKES (best game in an East Fife jersey for a long time)
2 points - GARY KELLY (outstanding second half, ran the show and had some scoring chances)
1 point - BRIAN FAIRBAIRN (another workhorse effort from the Bairn)
Referee Freeland glows in the dark
Nearly an equaliser, as Jimmy Herkes heads over
Sport hurts. Ouchy
[For another report on the game and stats, check out the EAST FIFE MAD site]