SAT 5TH MAR 2005: H v PETERHEAD (SCOTTISH THIRD DIVISION)
There's some things you can depend on in life. Two such things are that (this season) East Fife's shots on target count per game will not trouble people with only one hand to count on and if it's a bitter cold day, the Bayview pie stall will run out of pies or bovril or both. It's 'good' to have these dependencies.
So, wrapped up like winter and having had a week off from the misery, it was an unusual starting eleven that took the field against the promotion certainties, as injuries and family commitments saw Fraser Duncan surprisingly return to the defence and Gavin Beith and Kevin Steele both starting.
It was no surprise when Peterhead started the brighter and Craig Tully had the first shot of the match, when he blasted over early, causing Scott Morrison no problems.
Peterhead continued to push forward and with 7 minutes on the clock, East Fife had (as has been written countless times now this season) Scott Morrison to thank for keeping the scores still level. A quick Peterhead break caught the Fife on the back foot and as Scott Michie ran at the Fife defence, Robert Linn arrived almost unnoticed and was free and unmarked in the middle. Michie played the ball inside to Linn, but the Blue Toon striker saw Morrison produce a brilliant point blank stop and then smother the rebound. It should have been 1-0. It wasn't. Would Peterhead come to rue that miss?
Well, no as it turned out, but it gave us some brief hope.
Peterhead were having some success in the long ball over the top of our defence, but were hitting them just too long to set up any chances or pose any real danger, but with 22 minutes on the clock all that changed when Linn got the ball just inside the Fife box and curled a beautiful effort up and over Morrison and into the top left hand corner of the net. A cracking goal and 1-0 to Peterhead.
Some decent pies were all the Fife faithful had to amuse them in the bitterly cold conditions, but with just over half an hour gone they nearly had something to cheer about when a long clearance bounced and just eluded Stevie Nicholas in the Peterhead box, with Paul Mathers collecting the ball just before the Fife hitman could reach it.
The last action of the half came on 37 minutes, when Peterhead's goalscorer Linn hobbled off and out of the game, only to be replaced by the equally dangerous Martin Bavidge.
So a miserable first half came to an end, with little really on show to potentially warm our cockles in the second half. Any cockles were finally assured no warmth when news came through that the Bovril had run out.
At least we'd be playing with the wind behind us in this half.
The half was only eight minutes old when some more magic from Peterhead produced their second goal. Allan Youngson got the ball on the left and cut inside, before delivering a delicate lob into the box which Scott Morrison appeared to lose in the sun and the ball nestled in the net for 2-0 to the Blue Tooners.
As the game passed the hour mark, the best East Fife move of the game so far saw Greig McDonald whip in a cross from the right, which a diving Gavin Beith just failed to make contact with, amid claims that he was nudged over.
Any thoughts of a Fife comeback were immediately put on the back burner moments later as Bavidge went on a strong run which ended with a low shot which Morrison did well to tip round his left hand post for a corner.
The game then burst in to life on the 64 minute mark when East Fife won a free kick when Keith Gibson tussled with Greig McDonald and Michael Renwick. Renwick took particular exception to Raeside's attention and took both his legs away from him, earning him a booking, whilst Gibson rolled around in "agony" before leaving the pitch laughing towards the Fife faithful.
As the game continued Gibson then got revenge and flattened Renwick on the centre circle. A free kick for East Fife and amazingly no booking for Gibson, who had just committed two bad fouls in a minute. The referee was Colin Hardie though, so what do you expect?
The game then settled back down again but finally saw East Fife come to life as an attacking entity in the game.
With thirteen minutes remaining, they won a corner on the left which was played in low and short to Greig McDonald. The Fife captain took a delightful touch and then fired in an effort which was headed off the line and away from danger.
75 minutes gone and our first shot on target. Says a lot.
East Fife had the better possession in the closing minutes, but there was no real danger being posed, but with six minutes remaining the Fife won a free kick on the right. Brian Fairbairn, who had come on as sub for Kevin Steele, played the ball in to the box and it was cleared, but only as far as Stevie Nicholas on the edge of the box, who rifled in a fierce low drive into the bottom right hand corner of the net for 2-1.
Sadly, despite pushing for an equaliser, there was nothing really there to deliver the killer blow we needed and the final whistle came, with Peterhead running out deserved winners to keep up their chase to Gretna.
It was another dire performance. Two shots on target in the whole match and they both came in the last fifteen minutes. It's not acceptable and there's no improvements being seen out there. It really is starting to become a chore/bore watching the team at the moment and the season can't end soon enough as far as I'm concerned.
Will Stenhousemuir bring any better performance next Saturday? Let's certainly hope so.
C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 1 - 2 Peterhead
EAST FIFE: Morrison, Renwick, Duncan, Lumsden, Mathie, Kelly, Mitchell (Boyle 80), G. McDonald, Nicholas, Beith, Steele (Fairbairn 65) Subs (not used) - McCafferty, Tarditi and Byle.
Not many stand out performances. It was more, who sucked least...
3 points - STEVIE NICHOLAS (kept trying to make something happen. things weren't happening. cracking finish for the goal)
2 points - GREIG McDONALD (had a good, attacking second half)
1 point - BRIAN FAIRBAIRN (at least added a bit of pace and flair when he came on)
[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]