TUES 14TH AUGUST 2007: A v FORFAR (CHALLENGE CUP 1ST ROUND)
What goes around comes around.
Last week, we were the victors in a Cup shock. This week, the shocked, as Jim Moffat's minnows from Forfar pulled out an extra time win in the First Round of the Disney sponsored Challenge Cup.
Forfar held their own at times against their high flying, table-topping opponents, but it was East Fife who had the first chance when Steven Tweed headed over a Kevin Fotheringham free kick with 8 minutes gone.
Forfar's response was quick, when Michele Lombardi put through Paul Lunan, but Willie McCulloch was quick to race out from the Fife goal to block.
A concerted spell of Fife pressure saw Paul Walker whip a dangerous ball from a Ryan Blackadder free kick across the goal, but with no takers. The Fife soon forced two corners, the second of which was headed narrowly over by Jonathan Smart, before Andy Reid was forced to save a long range effort from Blackadder.
All this and only 17 minutes gone. As the rain fell hard on a humdrum town, would any of this action lead to any goals?
Forfar had a great chance to take the lead on 24 minutes, when a quick attack saw Martyn Fotheringham hit high and over when he had good options on both sides.
The stalemate was broken a minute later though, when an unmarked Lombardi looped a header over McCulloch and into the Fife net, following a long ball into the box from Stephen McNally. William, it really did look like it was nothing. Ah well, 1-0 to the Loons.
The Fife looked for an immediate reply and Kevin Gordon sent in a dangerous cross which the Forfar defence had to clear for a corner.
The Fife were sending in a few threatening crosses into the danger areas, but with no takers and Fotheringham was next to try, but his free kick just eluded the outstretched boot of Smart.
With 34 minutes gone, Blackadder sent in a free kick from the left. The ball fell to Paul McManus at the back post but his effort was blocked and as it fell to Walker at the edge of the box, the Fife's mild handball appeals were waved away and the wee winger hit over.
Two minutes later and McNally wasted good work by Forfar with a poor effort, but the bridie boys were forward looking for a decisive second, happy to launch quick breakaways from broken down Fife attacks.
It was one such move which nearly brought them their second on the 38 minute mark, with Lombardi and Stuart finding themselves two on one with Tweed. Lombardi played the ball inside to Stuart, but the Forfar midfielder decided to go wide, allowing McCulloch to come out and close down the angle, pulling off a great one handed stop. The rebound fell back to Stuart who this time decided to lob the ball over Willie, but Smart was now on hand in the six yard box to calmly head the ball lovingly back into Willie's welcoming arms.
With five minutes of the half remaining, Walker played the ball to Craig O'Reilly at the edge of the box. The big striker turned brilliantly but it was only a defenders flying leg which thwarted his goalbound effort.
As the half ticked to a close, McNally sent a lowly driven 25 yard free kick to McCulloch's near post, which Willie was unable to fully collect in the sodden surroundings and the ball spilled for a corner. Former Fifer John Ovenstone powerfully met the inswinging corner and as the ball dropped into the six yard box, McCulloch collected by inches before Lomardi's foot.
East Fife were to have the last chance of the half, when a scramble in the Forfar box eventually fell to McManus, but he was only able to hit over.
So half time and despite a lot of huffing and puffing, no success for the Fife and it was Forfar who went in the happier side. So would we get another one of our very different second half performances?
Well the Fife certainly started the stronger after the break and it was wave after wave of Fife attacks and pressure, as they tried to find the equaliser.
Smart headed wide just two minutes into the half and two minutes later O'Reilly somehow blasted over from six yards when Reid couldn't collect a cross into the box.
Moments later and it was McManus who came closest yet, when his cross come shot from the right sideline forced Reid to tip over from under his crossbar.
Forfar weren't able to withstand the Fife pressure for much longer though and the deserved equaliser came in some style after 53 minutes.
Paul Walker went on a fantastic 40 yard run and although Reid managed to block the winger's first effort, Paul followed up the rebound and fired spectacularly into the corner of the net from just inside the box. 1-1 and game on.
As the Fife pressure continued, it was no surprise when they took the lead on 69 minutes when O'Reilly ran on to a through ball and made no mistake this time, powering home from 10 yards. 2-1 Fife. Game over? Um, sadly not.
The game seemed to be playing out to an inevitable conclusion, with the Fife attacks drying up, bar a Blackadder effort which went wide, and Forfar weren't offering much of a serious attacking threat. But as the Fife fans were getting their car keys at the ready, up popped Forfar with a surprise.
Lombari hit a hopeful ball to the edge of the box to the girning Stephan Tulloch and the lanky Loon completely sclaffed his shot, wrong footing McCulloch and the ball trundled into the bottom right hand corner of the net. 85 minutes gone and 2-2. A total injustice, but that's lower league football!
This fluke rekindled Forfar's attack and two minutes later Lombardi forced McCulloch to make a great stop at his near post for a corner. The subsequent corner led to an almighty scramble in the Fife box before the ball finally came out to Tulloch, who this time hit the ball properly and it flew over the bar.
As extra time beckoned, sub Stevie Nicholas had a chance to save us 30 minutes of our life but he shot straight at the keeper from the edge of the box.
So extra time it was and Forfar completely dominated the first period and if it wasn't for Sean Grady's woeful finishing for the Loons it would have been a one sided Forfar favouring scoreline. Thankfully for the Fife fans present, we got to see why he was a sub.
First of all he shot wide from a good position when he should have buried it, then Willie saved low from another effort from him, before Grady slipped and fell over whilst unmarked in the middle of the box just as the ball then came into him. He couldn't get up in time and was inches away from connecting and taking the lead for Forfar when he finally did get back to his feet. It wasn't one of Grady's most memorable performances if we're honest!
Kevin Gordon then had a good effort saved from a rare Fife attack, before Willie coolly collected the ball in the air when left in a three on one position, as the Fife defence pushed out to leave Lombardi, Lumsden and Grady, unmarked and challenging Willie for the cross in.
The Fife couldn't hold out any longer though and on the stroke of half time of extra time, Forfar finally took a deserved lead. Martyn Fotheringham played a perfect free kick from the left into the six yard box and Lunan rose off the ground to volley high into the net from mid air, giving McCulloch no chance and sending the slaver covered special needs Forfar kids behind his goal into raptures (or possibly a fit, we're no too sure).
Was there any way back for the Fife now? Well, no, but don't stop reading as the action did continue and East Fife then proceeded to dominate the second extra period.
Stevie Nicholas was first to have a chance for the Fife, when he was superbly put through but wanted to take one touch too many, allowing the Forfar defence to close him down before he could get a shot off.
Steven Tweed then crashed a header off the bar and over, before Paul Stewart hit a Dougie Cameron cross just wide and Kevin Fotheringham powered a 25 yard effort over.
As East Fife pushed forward it was left to Forfar to have one last effort when Grady found himself clear and running onto Willie before blasting over from 8 yards out.
So the final whistle came and Forfar celebrated their first win of the season.
As a performance we certainly missed our usual starting midfield to give the front men better service, but at least it gives us a break from the rash of midweek games that were coming at present.
So Saturday it's back to League business and off to Elgin.
C'mon the Fife!
FINAL SCORE: Forfar 3 - 2 East Fife (After Extra Time)
EAST FIFE: McCulloch, McDonald, Linton, Smart (Stewart 88), Tweed, K Fotheringham, Gordon, Blackadder, McManus (Nicholas 80), O’Reilly, Walker (Cameron 88) [Subs not used: Mathers and Fortune]
3 points - Kevin Fotheringham (put in a strong shift all over pitch)
2 points - Kevin Gordon (worked hard)
1 points - Steven Tweed (led by example)