SAT 26TH MAR 2005: H v ELGIN CITY (SCOTTISH 3RD DIVISION)
East Fife went in to this came still on a high from Tuesday night's thrashing of Albion Rovers. The fans were optimistic and last Saturday's dismal performance against the Shire was forgotten. What a fickle bunch we are! Either that or we just yearn for a winning team once again.
Stevie Nicholas was laid low in bed with the flu, giving Steven Tarditi a place in the starting eleven for this rearranged match. Quite ironic that the day that Doctor Who returned to our screens after a 16 year hiatus, the Tardis returned to the black and gold starting line up, as people pondered whether he really was bigger on the inside.
East Fife threatened first, with Greig McDonald shooting wide after a neat lay off from Tarditi and they continued the pressure as Gavin Beith shot over on 7 minutes following a brilliant pass from Kris Brash under pressure to clear.
Moments later and a neat move saw McDonald pick the ball up in the box and his attempt at a spectacular volley on the turn flew high and over.
Elgin had their first chance of the game on the 14 minute mark, Phil Reid made room for himself at the edge of the box and unleashed a fierce dipping volley, which John McCafferty superbly tipped over for a corner.
Elgin came closer still on 27 minutes when a corner from the right saw Craig Higgins header cleared off the line by Beith or Lumsden (not too sure excactly which!).
East Fife had certainly let Elgin come in to the game now and they should have taken the lead on the half hour mark. A long clearance into the Fife half saw Brash have difficulty controlling the bouncing ball. He slipped and hit the deck, allowing Reid a clear run on goal, one on one with McCafferty. Craig Lumsden then miraculously closed down on the Elgin striker and perfectly timed a tackle to knock the ball away from him in the box and allow McCafferty to smother the ball. A lucky escape for the Fife there.
The last chance of the half fell to the Fife, with ten minutes remaining, as Tarditi laid the ball off perfectly to Sean Palizcka, but Tuesday night's hero could only watch as Keiron Renton turned his effort away for a corner from a tight angle.
So half time and still goal-less, in a patchy first half with not a hell of a lot to shout about. Spose we were spoiled on Tuesday really!
As in the first half, East Fife were the first team to threaten. A great move, seven minutes in, saw Policecar set free on the right and he unselfishly cut the ball back to the Tardis, who could only watch in despair as his low drive from just inside the box crashed off the right hand post and was scrambled away.
Two minutes later, however, and Elgin had a great chance to open the scoring themselves, as a free kick was played in to the back post, just eluding Stuart Cumming who had run clear.
Moments later and more slack marking nearly cost Fife dearly again, but the unmarked Hugh Dickson headed Adam Nelson's cross just over.
Set pieces and long balls were the only things to really cause the Fife defence much trouble and when Elgin won a free kick in a dangerous position on 67 minutes, you wondered if this would be the telling strike. Thankfully John McCafferty was more than a match for Andy Roddie, turning the experienced midfielder's fierce deflected strike acrobatically away for a corner.
This signalled Johnny Mitchell coming on for the Tardis and he was soon in the thick of the action heading over a Brian Fairbairn free kick on 73 minutes.
The Bairn's free kicks had been perfectly flighted in all afternoon and with quarter of an hour remaining he did just that again. He played the ball in to McDonald, but the Fife captain slipped, allowing the ball to be played to the back post, but Elgin sub Garry Wood coolly chested the ball back to Renton from two yards out.
The Elgin keeper threw the ball out, but the Elgin defender's attempted punt upfield was charged down by Mitchell. The ball fell to Greig McDonald just inside the box and he made no mistake in dispatching the ball low past Renton and into the left hand corner of the net for 1-0 to the Fife.
It was a deserved lead, but it was nearly blown with seven minutes remaining when more slack marking allowed Martin Harty to run unmarked onto a diagonal cross, before blasting well wide from 6 yards out when it looked easier to score.
East Fife killed the game off though with three minutes left, when Mitchell picked the ball up outside the box and ran at the Elgin defence, before the losing the ball about 8 yards out. The ball bobbled, hit an Elgin defender and then bounced back to Mitch, hitting off his knee and into the net! A scrambled goal if ever you saw one, but they all count and it was 2-0 Fife.
The final whistle came and East Fife recorded back to back wins for the first time this season and amazingly moved only two points off third place, demonstrating just how poor the League is this year!
It was a scrappy three points, but there was some good positives to take from it and with seven games remaining, we may yet salvage something respectable from this season, whilst playing some of the worst football I've ever seen an East Fife side play in the process. Go figure!
Let's see how we can cope against Kenny D and his free scoring Gretna buddies next week.
C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 2 - 0 Elgin City
EAST FIFE: McCafferty, Renwick, Brash, Lumsden, Mathie, Kelly, Paliczka, McDonald, Tarditi (Mitchell 68), Beith, Fairbairn Subs (not used)- Dodds, Duncan, Boyle and Crawford
A ground out three points, but some players particularly shone....
3 points - CRAIG LUMSDEN (excellent all round performance)
2 points - GAVIN BEITH (starting to really settle in to the side)
1 point - SEAN PALICZKA (caused a bit of trouble)
[For another report on the game and stats, check out the EAST FIFE MAD site]
[For more pics of games check out Brian Lawson's THEFIFERS.CO.UK site]