SAT 5TH AUGUST 2006: H v STENHOUSEMUIR (SCOTTISH 3RD DIV)
(***Remember this report was written from the mound and that's not the easiest of things to do, so apologies in advance for any inaccuracies!!!***)
Like Christmas, you wait weeks for it to happen then it does and it's hardly been worth all the anticipation.
After all the pre season games it was now time to see what Dave Baikie's preferred starting line up would be and, to us, it was a surprise that he went with a Paul Ritchie/Kevin Gordon partnership up front at the expense of John Martin.
In what will hopefully be a sign of the season to come, East Fife threatened first when Kevin Gordon's lob hit the top of the net after being set up by Tom Courts, with just four minutes gone.
The chances were proving scant though and Stenny's best early chance came when Robbie Henderson headed over from a corner after 12 minutes.
It was pretty much stalemate, on a scorchingly hot afternoon, and we had to wait till the half hour mark before the next goalmouth action when, following some neat work on the right, Gordon played the ball inside to Ally Mitchell but Mitch could only hit his effort straight at keeper Willie McCulloch.
With nine minutes of the half remaining Stenny then had the chance of the game so far, with only a tremendous reflex save from Iain Ross preventing Gareth Hutchison from volleying in the opener from the edge of the six yard box.
As the game approached half time, Sam Linton went on a powerful run and set up Paul Ritchie, but the experienced striker's effort was well saved by McCulloch.
There was still time for one last chance and Mitchell went close for the Fife before the referee brought the stalemate proceedings to the interval. 0-0.
The Warriors had the first chance of the second half when Shaun Dillan shot wide from a good position after 49 minutes, whilst Ritchie curled an effort high and wide in return.
Minutes later and Ross did well to save from point blank range, after the ball had been bobbling around the six yard area.
Ryan Blackadder was busy in the middle and trying to make things happen and had an effort easily saved from 20 yards out on 56 minutes.
As a strong wind picked up in the Fife's favour, Stenhousemuir had a spell of pressure but with no real threat before Jamie McGowan had an effort scrambled away following a corner.
East Fife's best success was coming up the left wing and another strong break saw Ritchie have another effort saved by McCulloch.
It was East Fife's turn now to have a period of sustained pressure and Blackadder had another effort on the 65 minute mark before Ryan himself looped a ball in for Courts but the ball was cleared for a corner before Tom could connect. The corner was cleared but immediately played back in and McGowan was unfortunate to see his powerful header go just over.
Then just as you thought that the game was going to drift along effortlessly, the best chance of the game came along and Stenny will be kicking themselves for not leaving with the full three points.
Sub David Templeton got the ball eight yards out and forced a brilliant save from Ross. Quick to pounce on the rebound, Templeton took the ball away from Iain then proceeded the hit the ball across an empty goal from a few yards out.
A bad miss but the last chance of the game and that was it over.
So the final whistle went and a draw was probably the fairest result as neither team really dominated for long periods.
It was a pretty healthy crowd all things considered, with three dozen protestors sticking with it on the mound. On the pitch, the team aren't fully gelling yet, but I'd have taken a point from Stenny at the start as they are going to be one of our closest rivals this season.
We certainly need to find our shooting boots though and both sides will need to dramatically improve if they want to make the impact their fans want.
C'mon the Fife!
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 0 - 0 Stenhousemuir
EAST FIFE: I. Ross, D. Ross, Linton, Smart, McGowan, Courts (Martin 73), Blackadder, Jablonski, Ritchie, Gordon (Crabbe 88), Mitchell [Subs not used - Dodds, C. Smart, Smith]
3 points - IAIN ROSS (still a few things to iron out but you were confident with him there and he made some good stops)
2 points - JONATHAN SMART (looking strong at the back and mopped everything up with ease)
1 point - RYAN BLACKADDER (tried a few things and looked sharp)
[Views From The Mound - Pish huh?!!! That's your fault Brown!!!]