MON 3RD JANUARY 2005: H v STENHOUSEMUIR (SCOTTISH 3RD DIV)
(REPORT BY MARK STEVENS AND LEE GILLIES)
East Fife set out to maintain their unbeaten run with a virtually unchanged side from the derby with Cowdenbeath, Tarditi in for the injured Nicholas being the sole change. There was no place on the bench for Herkes amid terracing rumours of a move back to St Andrews United.
Stenhousemuir started like they meant business. East Fife on the other hand started and indeed continued most of the first half like the New Year Hangover had just kicked in.
Morrison was forced to make a superb save on 7minutes after slack defending from Fife. Tarditi had a couple of opportunities early on but the finishing was not sharp enough to trouble Oor Wullie McCulloch (or should that be Fat Boab?). From that point on there were three Stenny chances for every sniff we got near goal. The Warrior's mid field and front men were slicing though our team with worrying ease.
Morrison kept us in the game with a great save from J.P McBride on 36minutes. The home fans were howling at the team to get the mess sorted out. East Fife were allowing the opposition too much space and backing off when not in possession. As the half time whistle went there was scant optimism we were about to witness an exciting Fife victory. It had the feel of another of those often-endured seasonal 0-0 shit-fests, if we stayed lucky.
Half Time Draw number 4673 came up for one lucky soul and the rest of us got to laugh with Carol as she paraded about the ground with the lucky number written large on a piece of paper stuck to a tray!!! This now the third week she has been made redundant by the clubs blatant refusal to buy a new fuse for the PA system! If Basil Fawlty ran football clubs!!!
With the exquisitely crafted Scoach Pie and lightly peppered meat based hot beverage hitting the spot we settled down expecting more of the same on the pitch.
The Fife faithful did not account for something so upsetting the Dainty Munchers at half time that they forgot about playing football and stated to re enact the Battle of Falkirk instead with the Fife players getting well laid intae at every opportunity. (I'd like to think the 'Bairn' told them in the tunnel he took a pre match piss in their tea urn).
Whatever their problem was and with East Fife looking a bit more lively the game started to become a little less mundane to watch.
Byle was replaced by McDonald on 51 minutes and immediately began taking on more advanced positions and providing an extra goal threat. Mitchell had two consecutive chances that were comfortably cleared by 'The Stenny'.
Hearts were a flutter on 55 minutes when the wind carried a speculative cross from Easton out of the hands of Morrison but Renwick was on hand to mop up.
The game really turned on the incident in 64 minutes. Paliczka had gathered the ball in the right back position when McInally chopped him from the side under the nose of the ref Eddie Smith. Mr Ed had no hesitation in reaching for the red card, rightly in my opinion. A lot of folk saw it as worth a booking but I suspect the height and speed of the tackle (and the minor point of being nowhere near the ball) gave the ref no option. Taught them a lesson? Eh..no. Stenhousemuir down to ten men continued to mix it just the same. 2 Minutes later Collins blatantly stamped on Gary Kelly and somehow escaped a booking.
Tarditi had put in a good shift but wasn't really looking like scoring and was replaced by youth team player John Ferguson on 68 minutes.
Chances were coming thick and fast for East Fife, a Rennick shot cleverly back heeled toward goal by Lumsden trickling just wide and a McDonald header flashing just over the bar. Fairbairn was starting to confuse and confound their defence by switching wings regularly and turning on the tricks.
The goal when it came was a well-worked affair. Paliczka hit a cross-field pass that Fairbairn picked up and slotted though to Lumsden eight yards out. Lummy controlled, turned and hammered the ball past the sprawling McCulloch. 1-0 to the Fife!!!!
A tiring Paliczka was replaced on 87 minutes by Kevin Steele with the tactics to pin Stenny into their half in the dying minutes. Fairbairn decided to put his own inimitable stamp on the master plan of Don Moffat. He gallously took the ball for a wee stroll in front of the Sea End fans and took the UTTER AND COMPLETE PISH out of the Stenny defence for what seemed like an age. His golden boots were a blur as he danced passed purple pussed and goggle eyed "Warriors" making his way along the byeline into the penalty area where he was brutally, violently and unceremoniously chopped almost in two by McGrillen. IT'S A PENALTY…… TO EAST FIFE!!!!!.
The ref clearly bottled it by not handing out the deserved red card but hey, we don't care that much as the wee man dusts himself off and delivers a perfect penalty to McCulloch's left. There then followed the biggest pile on ever seen at New Bayview and when wee Brian emerged from beneath he was wearing a smile as wide as the Forth just like the rest of us. Scenes of joy and jubilation in the stand continued till the final whistle and beyond. If we can play that badly and still win then who knows what might happen this season? Finish third and Gretna and Peterhead get kicked out of the league for tapping Old Firm players? The Fife go back up at the first attempt! (Lee did you spike ma Bovril?) The game will be remembered for that Fairbairn moment and let s hope he has plenty more of them in a Fife shirt. Starting with this Saturday against the Pars.
C'mon the Fife!
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 2 - 0 Stenhousemuir
EAST FIFE: Morrison, Renwick, Brash, Lumsden, Bain, Kelly, Paliczka (Steele 87), Byle (McDonald 51), Tarditi (Ferguson 68), Mitchell, Fairbairn Subs (not used): McCafferty and Mathie
3 points - BRIAN FAIRBAIRN (No question. For his moment of brilliance as well as some convincing wing play and decent work rate
2 points - SCOTT MORRISON (for keeping us in it in the first half)
1 point - KEVIN BAIN (for another assured performance organising those around him and bringing others in to play)
[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]