SAT 7TH OCTOBER 2006: A v ELGIN (SCOTTISH 3RD DIVISION)
This was the one game we were dreading. Top of the League against winless and pointless bottom. It's the banana skin game in the making, but thankfully it didn't turn out that way - although it was a bit nail biting towards the end!
East Fife started with a different strikeforce from last week with the two Craigs, O'Reilly and Smart, coming in for John Martin and Paul Ritchie. The fans may have thought it was a strange decision from Dave Baikie, but once again the manager proved he knows what he's doing!
Elgin City were clearly keen to stop the rot and came out the hungrier looking side, with a lot of the earlier pressure and they nearly took the lead with 10 minutes gone when Steven Mackay hit a curling 19 yard free kick goalbound, but John Dodds produced a fantastic save at full stretch to turn the ball away.
East Fife then came more into the game, with Ryan Blackadder looking commanding in the midfield as he tried to get things going and with 30 minutes on the clock, he did just that.
Picking up the ball just inside the Elgin half he played a beautiful defence splitting through ball, which O'Reilly perfectly ran on to and slotted home, giving Kieron Renton no chance in the Elgin goal. 1-0 to the Fife.
Seven minutes later and O'Reilly was then given a great chance to double both his and the Fife's goal tally.
A goalmouth scramble in the Elgin box ended up with Renton mistiming a lunge and bringing Blackadder crashing to the deck. Referee Ritchie had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and up stepped O'Reilly. Renton made amends for his mistake though by saving the spot kick and the team's went in at the interval with the Fife just one up.
Nine minutes into the second half though and the Fife did double their lead when Craig Smart headed home a free kick from six yards with the keeper nowhere and despite the best efforts of an Elgin defender on the line.
2-0 to the Fife but any thoughts that the three points were in the bag were quickly shattered in a deadly five minute spell from Elgin.
With 56 minutes gone, Adam Moffat pulled one goal back, when he just managed to get the vital touch following a mad scramble in the Fife box, and as the hour mark hit, Elgin were right back in the game with a brilliant volley on the turn from Paul Kaczan, which gave John Dodds no chance in the Fife goal.
So despite all of the pressure and possession from the Fife it was now tied at two apiece, as the game entered the final half hour.
But the travelling Fife faithful only had to wait ten minutes before the Fife lead was restored, as Craig O'Reilly hit a cracking 8 yard volley high into the net from a Blackadder cross.
3-2 to the Fife and that's how it finished to see East Fife extend their lead at the top to four points and Elgin still firmly rooted and winless at the bottom.
With this fixture being brought forward from January 2nd, getting three points in the bag now, when the team are full of confidence, was tremendous and now really heaps the pressure on the chasing pack.
C'mon the Fife!
FINAL SCORE: Elgin City 2 - 3 East Fife
EAST FIFE: Dodds, Smith, Dair, J. Smart, Doyle, Courts, C. Smart (Gordon 78), Jablonski, O'Reilly (Ritchie) , Blackadder, Hampshire (Fortune 64) [Subs (not used): Roberts and Kelly]
O'Reilly opens the scoring. 1-0 Fife.
Craig Smart doubles the Fife's advantage. 2-0 Fife.
O'Reilly clinches three vital points. 3-2 Fife.
*** Photos courtesy of Jim Corstrophine. See more of Jim's excellent photos HERE ***