SAT 25TH SEPT 2004: H v QUEENS PARK (SCOTTISH 3RD DIVISION)
The last time these two teams met, East Fife were on a crest of a wave, securing promotion and a place in the Second Division. Now, just 16 months later, East Fife and Queens Park meet with the Spiders three points ahead of the Fife and the Fife sitting as the third worst team in Scotland. How times change.
The Fife faithful had been buoyed during the week with the announcement that the Club was debt free and, at long last, owned the stadium. For the first time in a long time, there was a feeling of optimism amongst the Fife fans, but would this new found positivity rub off on the players? Could the injury ravaged East Fife squad show their bouncebackability after last week's demolition job at the hands of Kenny Deuchar and Gretna?
Could they fuck! In fact, they managed to turn in an even more woeful performance than last week's second half.
Like Gretna though, the first half showed a little bit of promise and it was East Fife that had the first chance three minutes in when Brash sent in a perfect free kick from the edge of the box and Derek Colquhoun was unlucky to see his header well saved by David Crawford in the Spiders' goal.
Queens bounced back and had a great chance to open the scoring four minutes later when Richard Sinclair sent in a long ball from just inside the East Fife half, finding Ally Graham at the back of the box. The big striker headed the ball inside to Ross Clark, but he blasted the ball well over from 14 yards.
This was to prove to be just the start of the problems that Graham was going to cause the Fife defence.
The long ball game, which East Fife have used to great effect in recent seasons, was causing the Fife defence huge problems and Scott Morrison was forced to pull off a brilliant point blank stop when former-Fifer Brian Blair latched on to the end of a perfect ball over the top of the static Fife rearguard.
Midway through the half and Les Byle had a chance to connect with a Brian Fairbairn cross, but his header was off target.
It was proving to be a fiercely contested game, as the tackles flew in and referee Mike Ritchie was proving to be card happy, booking the Fife's Michael Renwick for dissent and then Kris Brash and Frankie Carroll for an incident the linesman drew to the referee's attention, whilst amazingly not even speaking to the Spiders' Stuart Kettlewell after clattering heavily into Morrison.
Queen Park were playing some nice football, countering the long balls with some neat passing moves and it was no real surprise when they took the lead after 34 minutes. Ross Clark picked the ball up wide left and unleashed a tremendous looping volley to beat Morrison from a difficult angle from outside the box for a cracking goal. 1-0 to Queens Park.
The Spiders were close to doubling their lead with six minutes of the half remaining when a brilliant diagonal ball over the defence found Alan Trouten running through but Morrison did well to save.
East Fife had the last chance of the half when Gary Kelly just reached a free kick into the box, but he was unable to get any power on his effort and Crawford easily saved.
So, another half time and another lacklustre performance to contemplate. Surely Moffat would raise the players' game this week?
As the second half started, it looked like it might, as Colquhoun had an effort well saved, but any optimism of a Fife fightback were extinguished second later when Queens doubled their lead.
Winning a free kick on the right, the ball was played perfectly into the box and Ally Graham rose unchallenged to head home easily. 2-0 Queens Park.
East Fife would have to strike back quick if they were going to have any hope of getting back into the game and had a great chance on 55 minutes when Colquhoun cut the ball inside to Kevin Steele, but his woeful effort had no power and more resembled a pass back.
This squandered chance was to come back to bite the Fife when Ally Graham effortlessly headed home his second (and his second from a Davie McCallum cross from the right) and Queens' third on 58 minutes, killing the game as a contest, as a chorus of boos rang around Bayview.
The Spiders' weren't finished though and Graham netted a hat-trick with a beautiful curling effort from the edge of the box on 65 minutes, which gave Morrison no chance.
Jim Moffat responded to this four goal deficit by removing his most dangerous threat to the Spiders' defence, as Steven Tarditi replaced Derek Colquhoun. Cue more boos and even James Herkes was left to shake his head at that decision as he waited to take a throw-in.
Just when it was looking like it was going to be a case of "how many?", East Fife then enjoyed their best spell of the game, although let's be honest here, that wouldn't have taken much!
Kris Brash was pushing forward more often now, as East Fife seemed to either be adopting a three at the back formation or young Brashers was just bored with what he saw in front of him. Within a five minute spell, he had two chances to gain a Fife consolation, Crawford denying his first effort with his leg from six yards out on 69 minutes and then Kris blasted well over from a good position four minutes later. You couldn't fault him for his effort though.
Jimmy Herkes then had a half chance and Brian Fairbairn tried a 25 yard effort that posed little problems and with that, the Fife threat fizzled out.
Queens Park looked to finish the stronger and Ross Clark had two excellent chances to extend their lead in the closing minutes, his first being well saved by Morrison for a corner and his second, from the resultant corner, saw Morrison tip his spectacular overhead effort just over the bar. It deserved a goal and would have been in good company with his opener and Graham's third.
As the fans made their ways to the exits, East Fife did what they looked so unlikely to do for the rest of the ninety minutes and found the net, as Tarditi ran on to a long through ball and rattled a belter past Crawford from 18 yards. It was some finish, but way too little, way too late as the referee thankfully put the Fife fans out of their misery and blew for full time.
Another putrid and turgid performance came to an end and as cries of "Moffat, you've not got a fucking clue" greeted the players as they made their way up the tunnel, you have to wonder how Jim Moffat can continue as manager for even one more game.
He is seemingly out of his depth and devoid of ideas as to how to get the team out of the rut his style of football has gotten us in to.
This season's a write off. We're debt-free and need to start putting the foundations in place for a successful promotion push NEXT season. That has to start by a new manager and blooding some of the under 19s to see what they've got.
Queens Park played as a team today and were tremendous. Their financial constraints are worse than ours, yet they seemed passionate and keen to play for the jersey, attack, entertain and win.
As Jim Moffat applauded the fans shouting for his head, you had to wonder if it was irony or a goodbye wave.
Elgin next week. It's a long way to watch crap. Things have to change before the fans don't bother any more. Cmon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 1 - 4 Queens Park
EAST FIFE: Morrison, Renwick, Brash, Lumsden, Condie, Byle, Herkes, Kelly, Fairbairn, Colquhoun (Tarditi 68), Steele (Crawford 82) Subs (not used)- Logie, Duncan and McKenzie
In the darkness of our crumbling season, two players shone like beacons in a foggy graveyard:
3 points - KRIS BRASH (outstanding again. having to cover so much of the pitch and even found himself as striker almost!)
2 points - SCOTT MORRISON (may have lost four goals, but none were his fault and he kept the scoreline down in the end)
1 point - DEREK COLQUHOUN (was slightly busier than last week!)
Queens come close
The freakishly tall assistant draws the ref's attention to something
Sadly just a double booking and not the way he runs
"If I hide, maybe the ref won't see I'm a hacking cunt"
Tarditi! 4-1. The comeback starts here! Aw, fuck it, the ref's blown
[For another report on the game and stats, check out the EAST FIFE MAD site]