SAT 23RD OCTOBER 2004: A v MONTROSE (SCOTTISH 3RD DIVISION)
I don't know about what a difference a day makes, but a week has the impact of an asteroid hitting the planet when it comes to East Fife.
Last week had the fans, rather optimistically, believing that we may have turned a corner and could actually play football. We looked forward to going to Montrose. The Prediction League showed unknown positives - even from Tam! What could go wrong?
Ninety minutes of football at Links Park is the answer to that little question.
Fielding an unchanged starting eleven from last week's victory, Montrose's pace soon East Fife starting to look a little bit under the cosh, whilst fielding no real killer attacking threat themselves.
With only 10 minutes on the clock, Kevin Webster screamed "this one's for Sally and the kids" and unleashed a fierce, low curling effort that saw Scott Morrison, Kris Brash and a post conspire for a Montrose corner. The corner was whipped decisively into the box by Webster and fell to Paul Doyle, who had time to chest the ball down before firing home from ten yards out. 1-0 Montrose.
Minutes later and the pacy Montrose attack nearly doubled the lead when a through ball to Martin Wood caused the Fife defender tracking him to slip, allowing Wood to fire off a strong shot which Morrison did well to save for a corner.
Sadly, from an East Fife point of view, it was Montrose that were having all the goal-threatening opportunities and midway through the half, a neat passing move led to Craig Smart shooting just wide. This was quickly followed by another chance by Smart, which Morrison saved well, and one by Graeme Sharp that went just over.
With 33 minutes gone, East Fife had what could be deemed as their first effort on goal, when Derek Colquhoun turned and shot from the edge of the box but former Fifer Jim "Poyet" Butter (who had nice things to say about the travelling Fife support in the programme and acknowledged the chanting at him from the Fife fans) easily saved.
The last chance of the half came on 44 minutes and it fell to Montrose. A neat back-heel to Wood, saw him play the ball out to Sharp on the left. He easily rounded Morrison and his goalbound shot was blocked by Kris Brash and fell straight into Morrison's arms on the ground.
It was a subdued, unhappy, but almost resigned Fife support at half time and there was very little (very very very little) of any kind of action in the second half to shake this.
Les Byle had a shot that flew wide early on, then Smart had a chance for Montrose from a free-kick midway through the half, but the excitement and action was at a minimum, as card happy referee Stephen Finnie seemed to want to be the centre of attention, whistling at every little thing and booking five players in what was not a dirty half, but did contain some fierce tackling.
With seven minutes remaining, Montrose seemed to have the points wrapped up when three Fife defenders could not stop Watson getting a cross in to Webster in the box and the Montrose midfielder made no mistake in burying the ball in the net. 2-0 Montrose.
East Fife had a last hurrah in the dying seconds when they won a free kick on the edge of the box. Colquhoun hit a great effort off the bar and Fraser Duncan (who had been niggled by a shoulder injury from early on) rose to knock the ball just over the line.
2-1, but it made no difference. Montrose held out the remaining seconds to secure the three points and a well-deserved victory, whilst East Fife went back to wondering just what happened out there again.
It looked so different a team from last week and the key was that the passing game was nowhere to be the seen. Yes, it was a bumpy pitch, but that didn't stop Montrose!
Let's just hope East Stirling don't sign Gazza, cos we could still end up bottom! I blame the red strips - oh and Moffat. Another away game next week, what fun will that hold in store?
C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: Montrose 2 - 1 East Fife
EAST FIFE: Morrison, Renwick, Brash (Tarditi 85), Gaughan, Duncan, Kelly, Herkes, Byle, Nicholas, Colquhoun, Fairbairn (Mitchell 72) Subs (Not Used): Lumsden, Crawford and Gardiner
Another hard week. Another week of trying to work out just who wasn't as bad as the rest. I'm sure we'll all disagree on this one!
3 points - Kris Brash (Had to play all over the park again - when allowed to)
2 points - Scott Morrison (Can't blame him for the goals and made some good stops)
1 point - Gary Kelly (still running our midfield)
No matter how far away you got, it still looked crap!
[For another report on the game and stats, check out the EAST FIFE MAD site]
[For more pics of the game check out Brian Lawson's THEFIFERS.CO.UK site]