SAT 13TH NOV 2004: A v EAST STIRLING (SCOTTISH 3RD DIV)
Well this was it then. What we'd been waiting for/dreading. The Clash of the Shite Uns.
And boy, did it live up to it's billing.
The only change from the starting eleven from the Peterhead defeat was Kevin Bain making way in the middle for Paul Gaughan. The big surprises from a Fife perspective being the keeping of Greig McDonald on the bench and the dropping of the squad altogether of joint top scorer Derek Colquhoun following a disagreement between the player and management.
The game started brightly for the Fife and it looked like any fears of an embarrassing upset were to be unfounded, helped on 11 minutes when Stevie Nicholas opened the scoring.
Stevie intercepted a Joe Robertson clearance and picked the ball up 25 yards out, ran to the edge of the box and had time to control and turn, before firing off a low effort from 20 yards out. The Shire keeper, Tony Mitchell, should have got down quicker as the ball nestled into the bottom left hand corner of the net, but hey, we weren't complaining! 1-0 East Fife.
As on so many occasions in the past two seasons, East Fife's ascendancy waned and East Stirling got back in to the game, controlling possession and having a couple of good free kick opportunities that they squandered.
East Fife had their own sporadic attacks and their best effort came just after the midway point of the half, when Steven Tarditi found himself with time to control the ball in the box and perform one of his excellent trademark turns. All his good work was then wasted as he blasted high and over from 12 yards out.
Then with 34 minutes on the clock, East Stirling's pressure and East Fife's frustrations resulted in a free-kick on the left. The ball was perfectly whipped in by Robertson and Stephen Oates rose unchallenged to powerfully head home from 8 yards out. 1-1.
And that was basically the excitement of the first half, bar an acrobatic overhead kick by the Shire's Jamie Dunbar that Scott Morrison did well to tip over. Would the second half hold any better in store? Well, I'm sure we can all guess the answer to that one!
The Shire had the first chance of the half when a through ball was just collected by Scott Morrison before the advancing Shire forward could get to it. Close call though.
Then Greig McDonald entered the fray and any attacking threat or move seemed to be directed through and to him for the next ten minutes, as Fife hopes were temporarily raised.
He started things off with 51 minutes on the clock, collecting the ball in the box, controlling well and watching in agony as his neat chip went just over.
The Fife pressure was sustained and McDonald again got in a great forward position and his head just missed making contact with a cross from the six yard line.
Any Fife threat soon died down, however, and it was the turn of East Stirling to turn on the pressure. With 63 minutes gone an excellent move saw the ball played wide to the right of the box and the free Shire blasted the ball over from an excellent position. Where Fraser Duncan was at left back was a mystery.
A mystery that continued moments later when three Shire players found themselves unmarked in the same area as the ball across the box just eluded them all.
As the Shire continued to press a ball across the goalmouth also eluded any Shire contact and they must have realised at that point that they weren't going to get the break that they needed.
By this time, any faint chance of a deadly East Fife attack has disappeared. So much so that the Shire keeper had time to look at the fantastic range of sofas in Land of Leather and return unnoticed.
East Fife did win something on the day though, when, with 70 minutes gone, Brian Fairbairn won the "who would be the first player to clear the prison wall" competition. Congratulations to Brian, but well done to the other players who all came close.
Moffat tried in vain to make something happen with the introduction of ginger winger John Steele and the Policecar, but it was never going to happen and by then it was too little, too late.
As the final whistle came, the Shire fans went home disappointed at not taking the full three points and the Fife fans went home bemused, some even taking their frustrations out on innocent Falkirk lamp-posts.
In summary - mulch. Not even the good mulch that is worth the extra money to suppress your weeds, but the cheapy maga value packs that turn into a black gunge at the first sign of rain.
I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that people ask me how I can be bothered watching and writing about this garbage every week. You know, it's becoming harder to give an answer!
Still, it can't get much worse, can it? Oh yeah, I forgot, we've got Whitehill Welfare next week……
C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: Shire 1 - 1 Shite
EAST FIFE: Morrison, Renwick, Duncan, Lumsden, Gaughan, Byle (G. McDonald 49), Herkes, Kelly, Nicholas, Tarditi (Paliczka 84), Fairbairn (Steele 82) Subs (not used)- Trialist keeper and I. McDonald
Ok, so who wasn't quite as bad as the rest of them then? I blame the pink strips personally.
3 points - Scott Morrison - as at Bayview, his saves and alertness saved us from total embarrassment
2 points - Greig McDonald - the few minutes of attacking flair he showed made him our best outfield player. Says it all really.
1 point - Craig Lumsden - didn't seem to put a foot wrong, but if he did, my excuse is that I was a long way away, it was dark and I need new glasses anyway!
[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]