SAT 10TH JAN 2004: H v QUEEN OF THE SOUTH (SCOTTISH CUP 3RD ROUND)
East Fife battled hard against First Division high flyers Queen of the South at Bayview this afternoon, but in the end the Doonhamers' luck of the break saw them progress to a Fourth Round tie at Fir Park against Motherwell.
A pretty dour first half saw a few corners for both teams but little goalmouth action by either side, but a lot of hard tackles - particularly from Queen of the South and directed towards Kenny Deuchar.
East Fife had a great shout for a penalty turned away after only five minutes, when Stevie Nicholas seemed to have his legs totally taken away from him at the edge of the box, but that was about the only excitement in the first 45 minutes.
The second half started a lot more lively and both teams seemed to be going for the victory and pushing forward.
East Fife threatened first and after forcing consecutive corners, Greig McDonald headed narrowly wide after 51 minutes. After being the most commanding team in the first half, East Fife let Queens get more and more into the match and Bowey turned and shot just wide of O'Connor's right hand post after 55 minutes. It looked like O'Connor had turned it around the post with a fine save, but referee Freeland awarded a goal kick to East Fife, much to Bowey's protestations.
Bowey was starting to look like Queen's most attacking threat and he had another shot saved by O'Connor after 61 minutes. East Fife forced a few corners, but were never threatening the goal, but a quick Queens break on 68 minutes saw Gary O'Connor pull off a brilliant save from right-back Paton's shot.
East Fife immediately went back up the pitch and a crude foul on Deuchar resulted in Queen's Dodds saving Euan Donaldson's free kick from the right edge of the box. Six minutes later Deuchar was hauled down yet again. Freeland waved play on with the Fife in a good attacking position. Stevie Nicholas did well on the left, got past the Queen's defender and put a dangerous cross into the centre of the box, but with Deuchar still recovering from the foul, there were no Fife players in the middle to convert the great chance.
And how we were to rue that opportunity.
With East Fife starting to dominate, Queens broke up an East Fife attack and piled forward with speed. East Fife were caught short at the back and Mikey Hall was left to cover two on-rushing Dumfries players, leaving Sean O'Connor free to connect with a diving header from a pin-point cross, to give his namesake Gary no chance. It looked like it came more off his shoulder, but they all count and it was 1-0 to the First Division side.
The East Fife players looked distraught, particularly Stevie Nicholas who fell down on his back, with his head in the hands, showing the commitment he has for the team.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the Fife team for a few minutes, but they slowly regained their composure and piled forward looking for an equaliser. Kenny Deuchar forced an excellent double save from Dodds after 78 minutes, when he should have perhaps squared his second effort to Stevie Nic, who seemed to have some free space in the middle of the box, but a goalscorer's instinct is always to score and he can't be faulted for that.
The Fife faithful were stunned a minute later when Jim Moffat took Kenny off to a chorus of boos, to be replaced by Brian Fairbairn. We can only assume that Kenny had some kind of injury from the series of heavy tackles, as taking our main attacking threat off when one down in a Cup tie seemed bizarre. Brian Blair had been ineffectual in the middle and taking him off and going three up front seemed the more obvious move.
As East Fife controlled pushed forward and looked for the goal that would mean a Tuesday night trip to Dumfries, Queens had a few dangerous counter attacks, coming closest when Burke blasted over from a good position with four minutes to go.
A series of corners for the Fife came to nothing and Greig McDonald has East Fife's last chance in the final minute, but it went wide.
Stoppage time came and went, with East Fife unable to get the ball into a dangerous position to threaten the Queen's goal, relying on punting the ball high up the pitch to small attackers. The final whistle saw Queens happy to go back down to Dumfries with the victory.
If anyone deserved to win, East Fife edged it, but a draw would certainly have been the fairest result on the day. On the plus side, we don't have to go to Dumfries on a cold Tuesday night for the replay. And hey, at least we're not Arbroath.
EAST FIFE: O'Connor, McMillan, Donaldson, G. McDonald, Hall, Blair, Mitchell (Stewart 58), Kelly, Deuchar (Fairbairn 79), Nicholas, Gilbert (Stein 68). Subs Not used - Graham, Condie
ATTENDANCE: 1,063 (ahem!)
AFTN MAN OF THE MATCH: GARY O'CONNOR (confident and assured display
Deuchar tries to make something happen
A rare first half attack
East Fife try in vain for the equaliser