A midweek sojurn to New Bayview saw my first home match of the season and my first East Fife match since my trip to Ibrox in August. With three successive wins under new manager Billy Brown, the home supporters (including me) were full of confidence going into a match against a side who’d conceded 6 at home to the Fife earlier in the season. Stranraer were, however, buoyed somewhat by their excellent win against Alloa at the weekend.
Kick-off came and East Fife roared out of the blocks, exerting pressure on the Stranraer defence from the off. Loanee Bobby Barr was pulling the strings for the home side, while Collin Samuel was providing some classy touches. His classiest probably came on 7 minutes, flicking the ball through for the otherwise ineffective Liam Gormley, who brought a fantastic save out of Stranraer keeper David Mitchell. Later in the half, Samuel turned and struck Mitchell’s left-hand post from 25 yards out with the goalkeeper stranded.
The first half hour of the match belonged to East Fife, with the home side dominating possession yet not creating too many clear-cut chances. That profligacy was punished on 34 minutes, with Stranraer taking the lead. It was an extremely scrappy one, but Craig Malcolm got a decisive touch which put the ball agonisingly beyond the grasp of Calum Antell.
Half-time arrived with Stranraer one-up, despite the dominance of the side in red and black (rather than the usual black and gold). A bit of a half-time shouting from manager Billy Brown seemed to have been the order of the evening when East Fife came out for the second half a long way ahead of their opponents.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first. East Fife dominated possession, had chances to score but simply could not convert, with the final ball often lacking. Jamie Pollock (who came on for the ever-reliable Darren Smith after he had to go off injured) hit a post, Collin Samuel was not far away with a header and local boy Craig Johnstone should have done better when he hit his opportunity into the side netting with the goal looking inviting in front of him.
In all, Stranraer’s victory led to a frustrating night for the home fans who made up the vast majority of the 441 crowd on a cold December evening, and a brought a bit of a slam back to reality after an encouraging run under new boss Billy Brown. A home match against Stenhousemuir follows on Saturday, with away games at Forfar and Arbroath to follow thereafter. From a personal point of view, at least I’ve now been to see the side I’ve supported since the age of 6 more times than Atletico Madrid this season.
East Fife 0-1 Stranraer (Malcolm)