SAT 5TH FEB 2005: H v QUEENS PARK (SCOTTISH 3RD DIVISION)
People ask fans of lower league teams, especially those that are doing badly, what possesses you to go and watch them week in and week out, spending a lot of time and money in the process. Days like today make you question that yourself.
With Gary Kelly suspended after last week's sending off and Brian Fairbairn out for around six weeks with a broken foot, Les Byle and debutant loan Rover John Boyle entered the first team fray. Graeme Mathie also came in at left back, with Kris Brash relegated to the bench alongside Sean Paliczka who was replaced by Kevin Steele in the starting eleven.
Queens Park, fresh from a rare mauling from East Stirling, had the better of the opening possession but it was East Fife who had the best opening chance nine minutes in. Young winger John Boyle, on loan from Raith Rovers till the end of the season, nearly had a chance to make himself an instant hero on his debut when he got the ball on the left, just outside the box. A great first touch took him past the Queens defender and his shot was just tipped round the post by the outstretched David Crawford in the Spiders' goal.
Minutes later, Queens Park responded with a chance of their own, but Scott Morrison easily held Daniel Ferry's long range effort.
Queen's started to pile on the pressure though and won a corner on 17 minutes. Paul Harvey's outswinger was glanced clear by Michael Renwick but only as far as Ross Clark at the edge of the box and his volley was acrobatically tipped over by Morrison for another corner.
The Queens pressure continued four minutes later when Paul Harvey dubiously beat the offside trap in the box and played a brilliant ball across the goalmouth, which somehow both top scorer Frankie Carroll and Brian Felvus both managed not to connect with whilst tumbling over, amidst penalty claims from the Spiders.
Queens had another great chance moments later when Mark Ferry got on the end of a brilliant cross and was allowed a free header which went wide. And Mark Ferry was soon involved again, becoming playmaker this time when he crossed to the back post to Felvus, whose header across the six yard box was scrambled clear to John Boyle, who then cleared the danger more effectively.
The Queens attacks just kept coming and Harvey was the latest player to come close when he blasted over from a good position at the edge of the box.
East Fife had a brief respite from the pressure when a quick break saw the ball just taken off the foot of Greig McDonald in the box, when the Fife captain was in a good position.
Half time came to a chorus of boos and somehow the teams went in for the break all square.
Could East Fife continue to soak up the pressure or would they rally in second half as they shot towards the favoured sea end?
The second half though was to continue in the same vein and Morrison was soon in action six minutes in, producing a point blank save from Alan Trouten after the Queens right back had produced some neat work in the box to get his effort off. Mark Ferry tried to pounce on the rebound, but the ball was scrambled clear.
East Fife responded though with an attack which saw Johnny Mitchell get the ball away from the committed Crawford, but the Spiders defence hit the ball out for a corner before he could do any damage.
East Fife then had a bit if sustained possession, but the only real chance came to Greig McDonald, who rose unmarked to head a corner over as the hour mark approached.
East Fife freshened things up with the introduction of Sean Paliczka and Kris Brash and Policecar nearly made an immediate impact with a mazy run which ended in a corner.
Queens soon showed they were in the game though and Carroll broke on the left and sent a cross in to the box which Morrison did well to tip away from under his bar.
East Fife's main attacking threat was now coming from the Policecar, but his efforts and runs were not getting to the feet of any Fife players in goalscoring positions.
Just when it looked like the game had the cliched nil-nil written all over it, Queens Park got the goal that their possession and play deserved and it was the man that had looked a threat all afternoon, Mark Ferry, that got it.
The ball broke to him on the edge of the box and he drilled a delightful low curler into the bottom right hand corner of the net, giving Morrison no chance.
82 minutes gone and 1-0 to Queens Park and let's be honest here, there didn't look like there was going to be any way that we were going to get back on level terms, having mustered a paltry one shot on target for the second successive week.
And so it proved.
As the game closed off in a floodlightless gloom, East Fife did have the last chance of the game though when, after some magic by Policecar, the ball fell to Stevie Nicholas in the box. Nic and Mitchell then did their Chuckle Brothers "to me, to you, to me" impression, before the ball came back to Stevie and his net bulging effort was drilled just wide, sadly only bulging the spare net behind the goals.
As the light in the stand came on, the cry off "turn those off, we can see the fucking pitch" basically summed up how all of us felt.
Two games, two shots on target, two awful performances. It just isn't good enough. Beyond that, it's not acceptable. Someone has to stand up and take the blame for all this, but more importantly someone has to start to turn things around. Next season's League looks like being full of weak teams. Those teams will already be building for next season. We appear not to be. We HAVE to and we have to start now or risk being left behind for many seasons to come.
Another long trip beckons next week and the Fife faithful (for that read nutters) will be there in full vocal force once again. Let's hope we get an effort worth all the hassle.
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 0 - 1 Queens Park
EAST FIFE: Morrison, Renwick, Mathie, Lumsden, Bain, Byle (Beith), Steele (Paliczka 70), G. McDonald, Nicholas, Mitchell, Boyle (Brash 70) Subs (not used)- McCafferty and Ferguson
3 points - SCOTT MORRISON (have to give him three points yet again for another string of saves that kept us in a game)
2 points - SEAN PALICZKA (did more in his twenty odd minutes on the park than most of the rest of the team together)
1 point - JOHN BOYLE (fine debut. looked promising in the first half, but tired a little in the second)
[For another report on the game and stats, check out the EAST FIFE MAD site]
[For more pics from EF games check out Brian Lawson's THEFIFERS.CO.UK site]