Football is so often about choices. As something of a “check Livescore every Saturday” East Fife fan so far this season, I initially set off for Haymarket station on Saturday afternoon with half a mind to catch a train to Yoker to see Linlithgow Rose in action, in the quarter finals of the Scottish Junior Cup.
However, on noting that I still had about enough time to travel to Methil to see the team I’ve supported for almost a quarter of a century, I thought it only right that I take in my first East Fife game of the 2014/15 season.
As far as choices go, going to Methil was an excellent one. Having purchased an inexpensive jacket at Peacocks on the Shorehead (probably the first clothes I’ve bought or had bought for me from a shop in Leven since about 1997) to make up for the fact I’d misjudged the warmth of the March sunshine, I made my way to New Bayview and met up with Daniel, my cousin and godson (lucky chap) to take in the afternoon’s proceedings.
The first 15 minutes or so of the game produced a couple of good chances for Arbroath, with headers being flashed wide. East Fife slowly took control of the game in the middle of the park, however, and should have taken the lead in the 22nd minute.
Young midfielder Ross Brown was felled in the area after three quick chances had gone begging for the home side. Derek Riordan, once of Hibs and Celtic, took the spot kick but unfortunately hit it straight at the Arbroath keeper McCallum. Mr McCallum was somewhat lucky to still be on the park having taken out Brown.
The remainder of the half played out in much the same way – East Fife largely in control and drawing yellow card inducing fouls from their opponents. One of those on 45 minutes saw Riordan make up for his miss from 12 yards. He hit a direct free kick from the edge of the area low, around the wall and into the back of the net. McCallum got a hand to it but to no avail.
The second half was largely defined by Arbroath having set pieces comfortably dealt with by the home defence. Corner after corner was well cleared, the only hairy moment coming from a Bobby Linn free kick which home goalkeeper Millar fumbled. His follow up save to deny Whatley however was outstanding.
East Fife continued to hit Arbroath on the break, and that counter attacking finally paid off in the last minute. Good work from sub Alan Cook down the left saw him roll the perfect square ball to fellow sub Caolan McAleer, who made no mistake in knocking home the second and guaranteeing the Fife three very important points. McAleer celebrated exuberantly with the fans, and was then booked for his troubles, by which point nobody really cared.
In all, a thoroughly professional performance from the home side. New signings Riordan and Dickson played well, while Ross Brown and Nathan Austin have clearly grown in bulk and confidence since last season.
A positive result then for me to take back on the inordinately long bus and train journey to Edinburgh, and a 100% record for the season.
East Fife 2-0 Arbroath (Riordan, McAleer)