WED 16TH AUGUST 2006: H v ROSS COUNTY (Challenge Cup - First Round)

The Challenge Cup hasn't been the most successful hunting ground for East Fife in recent seasons and so it continued this evening, as East Fife bowed out of their second Cup tournament in the space of eight days, both at the hands of First Division opposition and conceding two goals in a two minute spell again proving to be their downfall.

Dave Baikie had made a few changes from Saturday's victorious side and the early stages of the game were pretty even but with no real goal scoring threats and both teams resorting to trying long range efforts.

With 21 minutes gone, however, things changed and Ross County took the lead when Andy Dowie met Michael Gardyne's corner ten yards out and powerfully headed home off the post and past the Fife defender on the line. 1-0 County.

Craig Smart headed wide on 27 minutes but an offside decision was given anyway and then Gardyne went on a dangerous mazy run for Ross County before David Ross blocked his shot for a corner.

And that was pretty much the first half, as Ross County went in 1-0 up. The goal apart, it was a fairly even game and certainly it didn't look like two divisions between the two teams.

East Fife started the second half the brighter and Ryan Blackadder was unlucky to see his low curler of a free kick hit the side netting from just over 20 yards out just three minutes in.

Blackadder then had another free kick chance on 54 minutes, this time in a more central position, but his dipping effort was well over this time.

All of the Fife attacks were going through Blackadder now and a through ball to Craig O'Reilly just eluded the loan striker moments later.

Ryan was involved again on 67 minutes when his dangerous corner was right on top of Ross keeper Joseph Malin, but the keeper managed to just punch clear.

County had brought on Craig Gunn minutes earlier and the highland hitman clearly had his shooting boots on, as two quick goals killed off Fife hopes.

The first came from a skillful passing move on 70 minutes, which culminated with Gunn easily slotting past John Dodds in the Fife goal, after being set up by a neat Fergus Tiernan back heel. It was a good move and a clinical finish.

Two minutes later and it was 3-0 and it was a howler from John Dodds, who rushed out to a long ball, but was too slow, allowing Gunn to nip in and chip the ball over the Fife keeper for an easy tap in to the empty net.

The last real chance of the game came with fifteen minutes remaining, when Craig Smart ran on to a ball over the top from Neil Jablonski, but the Fife striker hit wide.

The game fizzled out and when the final whistle came it was time to concentrate on the League once again. Ah well, there's always next year for a Cup run!

C'mon the Fife!

FINAL SCORE: East Fife 0 - 3 Ross County

EAST FIFE: Dodds, D. Ross, Smith, J. Smart, Courts, Mitchell, Fortune, Jablonski, O'Reilly (Gordon 80), C. Smart, Blackadder  [Subs Not Used: I. Ross, Linton, Doyle and McGowan]

ROSS COUNTY: Malin, Niven, Robertson, Dowie, Keddie (McCulloch 75), Irvine, Gardyne, Tiernan, Higgins (Gunn 63), Cowie, McKinlay(Scott 70)  [Subs Not Used: Ridgers and Anderson]

ATT: 304

AFTN 3-2-1:-

3 points - Ryan Blackadder (was the centre of all Fife attacks)
2 points - Elliot Smith (strong game)
1 point - Tom Courts (looked untroubled in centre of defence for most of game)