SAT 9TH APRIL 2005: H v ELGIN CITY (SCOTTISH 3RD DIVISION)
With third place most definitely there for the taking and playing against a team that you had beaten 2-0 just two weeks before, you'd have expected a little bit more from a Fife side than we got today.
Making only one change from last week's starting eleven, with Johnny Mitchell coming back in for Sean Paliczka, the biggest surprise to many was that Jim Moffat hadn't dropped Brian Fairbairn after his show of petulance last week. Maybe things are changing or maybe he just got 100 lines.
Playing against the wind in the first half was never going to be an easy proposition for East Fife, but it soon developed into all Elgin, with nothing coming back in return.
It all started to go wrong after just six minutes, with City taking the lead following some poor marking. Allan Dempsie charged down a Fife clearance and played the ball to Stevie Donnachie. Donnachie went to the bye line towards the left side of the box and with a couple of defenders around him, easily played the ball along the face of the goal, leaving Willie Martin the easiest of tap ins from three yards out, with John McCafferty floundering in the Fife goal. 1-0 Elgin.
The northerners nearly increased their lead just two minutes later when Fraser Bremner cut a dangerous ball in from the byeline on the other side this time and Graeme Mathie hit it clear for a corner before any of the waiting Elgin players could hit home.
The wind was certainly causing problems for the Fife, with long balls and quick Elgin breaks resulting in a couple of corners which were wasted.
Martin was causing particular problems and forced McCafferty into tipping his turning volley over the bar on 27 minutes.
Then, as if by magic, a shopkeeper didn't appear, but East Fife undeservedly hauled themselves back in to the game.
A clumsy tussle in the box by Martin Harty on Stevie Nicholas, saw the Fife striker go down and referee Kevin Toner pointing to the spot. It looked a soft penalty, but we'll take anything these days!
Stevie stepped up to take the kick himself and it has to go down as one of the worst hit penalties we've seen, as it slowly bobbled towards the diving Keiron Renton's left and somehow the Elgin stopper allowed it to bobble over him and into the net for 1-1. Hey, they all count!
Back in the game and it was the Fife that finished the stronger in the half and had a great chance to go in at the half in the lead.
A long ball bounced over the head of the Elgin defenders, allowed Stevie Nic to latch on to it, but instead of having a pop himself, from in front of the goal, he decided to play it left to Johnny Mitchell, who wasted the chance and the teams went in at the interval all square.
The second half started lively but soon turned in to one to forget.
Six minutes in and Stevie Nicholas won a corner after some skillful twisting and turning, but Elgin responded with Hugh Dickson's heading a Jamie McKenzie cross into the side netting.
East Fife slightly edged the possession for the next thirty minutes, but failed time and time again to have players on the end of any crosses that were sent in, with Stevie Nic's arm coming closest and the Bairn hitting a free kick over being the only other action of note.
With nine minutes remaining and the game apparently drifting towards a bore draw, Elgin got the winner and it was another defensive mistake that let them in.
Jamie McKenzie took a free kick from the left edge of the box and McCafferty failed to hold his low swinging effort, allowing it to spill to Harty and the Elgin man quickly pounced to chip the ball over the Fife keeper and in to the net.
2-1 Elgin and although a good Greig McDonald run and shot was unlucky to be deflected for a corner, it was game over and a deserved three points for Elgin.
The end of this season can't come quick enough for me and some of the players seem to look that way as well. Why Jim Moffat does not make substitutions, time and time again, is beyond me. It needed freshening up yesterday and it was 79 minutes in before we got the one and only change he made.
Why not give Robert Crawford a run in these games? He wasn't even on the bench yesterday. And Les Byle can't be any worse than Gary Kelly in the middle, with Kelly not helping win the fans over by mouthing off at them following some criticism.
It's been a long, hard, bad season, but thankfully it's nearly at an end. Now is the time to step up to the plate and build a promotion winning team for next season. The league is up for grabs next year. Do we have a board and management team up to the task of providing it to the Fife faithful? I fear not, but so want to be proved wrong.
C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 1 - 2 Elgin City
EAST FIFE: McCafferty, Renwick, Brash, Lumsden, Mathie, Kelly, Mitchell (Boyle 79), McDonald, Nicholas, Beith, Fairbairn Subs (not used)- Dodds, Byle, Paliczka and Duncan.
No players particularly shone, but....
3 points - MICHAEL RENWICK (didn't seem to do anything wrong)
2 points - STEVIE NICHOLAS (was almost in a midfield role at times)
1 point - GREIG MCDONALD (showed some attacking threat towards the end)
[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]