SAT 4TH SEPT 2004: A v PETERHEAD (SCOTTISH THIRD DIVISION)
It was beautiful conditions for the beautiful game today. Blue skies, glorious sunshine, lush green pitch. Sun beating down on you like you were on the continent, players having to take on water, friendly stewards.
All that was needed was two quality football teams who wanted to play great, exciting, attacking football.
One such team showed up. The other team was East Fife.
Words seldom fail me, but today's performance from the Black and Gold, sorry, Pink and White, leaves me with so little positive things to say about the team it hurts.
The only change from last week's ineffectual starting eleven was Scott Morrison making his first team debut, replacing the injured John Dodds. It wasn't to be long before he saw his first action and sadly that action was to pick the ball out of the net.
With only four minutes on the clock, Jamie Buchan ran onto a through ball into the box. With two East Fife players tracking back, Gary Kelly misjudged his tackle and brought Buchan down, leaving referee Freeland no option but to point to the spot. Scott Michie stepped up and drilled a powerful low shot to Morrison's left and although Scott got his hand to it, he was unable to keep the ball out and it was Peterhead 1 East Fife 0.
Seven minutes later and Martin Bavidge had a chance to double the lead when he found himself in a good position at the edge of the box. He took a neat touch to get the ball onto his favoured foot but his shot ended up high and wide.
Peterhead were in total control and were looking dangerous every time the drove forward, with Scott Michie showing us what we lack in a quality striker. And it was Michie who had Peterhead's next chance, turning excellently onto a Keith Gibson pass, cutting inside and firing a great shot to Morrison's left, which Scott managed to save well for a corner.
The second Peterhead goal looked imminent and the Fife cause wasn't helped when Mikey Hall limped off injured after 21 minutes to be replaced by Kris Brash. Kris slotted into the left back role with Graeme Mathie moving into the middle to partner Craig Lumsden.
With 24 minutes on the clock the second Blue Toon goal materialised from a brilliant passing move. Some neat interplay saw Bavidge take the ball through to the edge of the box, slip the ball to the left to Michie who beat Lumsden and drilled the ball between Morrison's legs and into the net. 2-0 Peterhead and for a team who had only scored 2 goals in 6 games, it wasn't looking good for a Fife comeback.
Five minutes later and another great move by Peterhead, saw Michie hit the bye line and his dangerous cutback was cleared by the Fife defence before a Peterhead player could run on to it. Michie certainly was hungry and keen to get his hat-trick and he deserved to have it two minutes later when he flicked the ball over Gary Kelly and crashed a fierce volley off the bar.
Peterhead were quicker and hungrier, whilst East Fife managed to be third to every ball!
With five minutes of the half remaining it was Michie yet again who caused problems, sending a defence splitting diagonal ball into the box, which Scott Robertson ran onto, but his effort was straight at Morrison.
With seconds of the half remaining, East Fife finally had an effort, of sorts, with Les Byle shooting high and wide from 25 yards out. Ok, it wasn't much of an effort, but at least I get to mention something of an East Fife attack in the first half!
So half time came and East Fife went in lucky to be just two down. The most entertaining stuff of the entire day, from a Fife point of view, came during the interval with the Fife faithful encouraging Brian Fairbairn and newboy Derek Colquhoun to do keepie ups and attempt the crossbar challenge, welcoming Colquhoun to the Club in a big way. This fun was to be cut short, however, when Moffat called Colquhoun in to get ready to start the second half in place of Stephen Tarditi, who had gone unnoticed for the first 45 minutes.
Any idea that Peterhead may ease up their attacks were soon dismissed when less than a minute in to the half, Michie (who else?!) was sent free on the right and his cross in to Robertson was saved easily by Morrison.
East Fife responded with a quick counter attack and James Herkes ran at the Peterhead defence effectually for the first time today, but with the Blue Toon defenders backing off and Kevin Steele free and screaming for the ball to his left, Herkes decided to go alone and ballooned his effort high over.
Neither team threatened much for the next twenty minutes, with Peterhead having the best chance when Keith Gibson curled a great effort just wide on 58 minutes, after leaving two Fife defenders in his wake.
Then with 66 minutes on the clock, Brian Fairbairn entered proceedings, for Paliczka.
And the Bairn almost made an immediate impact. A corner was floated in from the right to the edge of the box. Colquhoun flicked the ball back in and with the Peterhead defenders coming out, Brian found himself free and unmarked ten yards out but the ball hit off his head first and then the keeper's left post. Agonisingly close to a goal we didn't deserve!
Our FIRST attempt on target after SEVENTY minutes of play. Shocking stuff.
It wasn't to put a stop to Peterhead's attacking for long though and Lumsden did well to stop Michie when he got on the end of a long ball that left the rest of the defence floundering.
As the game went in to the last ten minutes, it was still all Peterhead as East Fife looked like a team devoid of any idea of what an productive attacking move looked like.
With eight minutes left, another fabulous Peterhead move saw Jamie Buchan play a neat one-two with Robertson before going on a mazy run through the Fife defence and shot over, when a goal looked a certainty.
A minute later and even the Peterhead substitutes got in on the act when Martin Johnston latched on to a long ball into the box, cut inside and fired in a low goalbound shot which Morrison produced a brilliant stop to turn away.
The closing minutes were filled by a noisy Fife faithful calling for the Board to go and telling Derrick Brown to fuck off, whilst also demanding to know "who the fucking hell's S Twigg". Showing the players just who their anger was vented at, these chants were interspersed with "East Fife FC" and "Jim Moffat's Barmy Army" cries.
The final whistle thankfully put us all out of our misery and it was a long journey home to mull over just how bad we are at the moment.
Our problems are with both the Board and the management. There are so many questions to be answered at boardroom level and these are being shunned by those that are there. There is no money coming from them to strengthen Jim Moffat's squad and we are failing to attract decent players through lack of cash. This is coupled with "tactics" that just aren't working and a team that either isn't good enough or aren't being coached properly and unable to have the best gotten out of them.
There were few plus points today. Morrison did well after a shaky start, but the goalkeeping position is not a problem. Colquhoun looked promising, but how long before that's knocked out of him? The midfield was posted missing yet again, there was no service to the front two and the defence were being ripped apart time and time again today by both long balls and any pass.
Something is seriously wrong at our Club and people now have to carry the can. Our promotion hopes are basically fucked already and we have scored 2 goals in 660 minutes of competitive football. I'm realistic enough to know that we're unlikely to hit our giddy heights of success again. I know we can't live in the past. But we should be higher up in Scottish League football than we are.
The team needs to get some passion and bite. The fans that paid good money and travelled over five hours deserve much much better than what was on show today.
If we can't beat the Shire next week and score some goals, then the fans will be leaving in their droves. Let's see what happens. C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: Peterhead 2 - 0 East Fife
EAST FIFE: Morrison, Renwick, Trialist - Mathie, Lumsden, Hall (Brash 21), Kelly, Herkes, Byle, Paliczka (Fairbairn 66), Tarditi (Colquhoun), Steele Subs - Trialist keeper and Bain
An almost impossible task and I'm quite loathe to give anyone any points this week! But will go with-
3 points - Scott Morrison (kept the score down with some good saves)
2 points - Brian Fairbairn (solely for having an attempt at goal!)
1 point - Derek Colquhoun (showed some promising touches)
Mikey Hall limps off
A rare Fife venture into the Peterhead box
Hands up who thinks the Bairn should have been on from the start?