Another step up as season nears closer

Paul McManus helped himself to another goal after his double on Saturday. Pic by G McLuskie.
Paul McManus helped himself to another goal after his double on Saturday. Pic by G McLuskie.
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East Fife welcomed League Two’s Edinburgh City for their second pre-season clash.

The standard of opposition represented another step up in class from the visit of Lowland League Spartans at the weekend.

Whether there’s too much difference in quality between the two is debatable, but what’s certain is this was another positive workout for Gary Naysmith’s side.

Aberdeen will visit on Sunday for the final pre-season friendly ahead of the visit of Dundee in the League Cup a week on Saturday.

There’s little doubt that the expected mixture of Dons fringe and under-20 players will pose far more of an attacking threat than that offered by Spartans and City.

East Fife have looked comfortable and assured against both, yet to concede, or indeed even look close to conceding, in either game.

The Fifers made a few changes from the side which brushed away Spartans 4-0 on Saturday.

Paul McManus, Pat Slattery and Willie Muir were handed starting jerseys while Jonathan Page, absent at the weekend, returned.

It took the home side barely five minutes to flex their muscles and grab an early lead.

Ross Mutch sent a pinpoint cross into the box which was met by the experienced McManus.

Alin Roman looked to have kept out his original header but the Fifer was first to react, bundling the rebound home.

Edinburgh City are the league’s newest club having demoted East Stirlingshire through the pyramid play-off system at the end of last season.

They really struggled with the slick Fifers who were unlucky not to go further ahead when Scott Mercer’s cross along the six yard box just lacked a finish.

The game lacked any real crackle, even by pre-season friendly standards, with both side failing to really trouble the other.

So the Fifers were swift to mix it up a bit at the start of the second half with Tony Wallace, Mark Lamont and Kevin Smith introduced from the bench in one swoop.

The substitutions enforced East Fife’s dominance even further on their opponents and a second goal wouldn’t be long in coming.

Chris Kane, playing in a more advanced midfield position, did the damage, scoring from close range.

Boss Gary Naysmith said: “I was really happy with the first half in particular.

“We never created as many chances as Saturday but were well in control of the game and passed the ball well.

“I tried some people in different positions with Pat at left back, I was at the right side of central defence and I wanted to see Chris Kane in the central midfield area.

“It was a good exercise.

“I think a wee bit tiredness crept in at the start of the second half because a lot of the lads had played the full game on Saturday.

“That’s understandable.”

The manager didn’t have too many options at his disposal to shuffle his pack, but was able to pitch ‘keeper Willie Muir in for a debut in place of Ryan Goodfellow.

“He was good,” said the gaffer.

“He talks and it’s good for him to get a clean sheet.

“It’s going to be a good battle between the two of them.

“Ryan Goodfellow has come back in really good condition and knows how we work.

“He was in for the first part of last season until we brought in Liam Kelly and then went on a good run.

“Ryan couldn’t really get back in so it could have gone either one of two ways.

“You can run or hide, or you can show that you’re up for the challenge, and he is up for the challenge.

“Willie was one of the most consistent goalies last season in the league so it’ll be a good battle.”