East Fife will grow after tough start

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East Fife’s tough pre-season schedule has taken its toll on the players, boss Willie Aitchison admitted after the Hamilton defeat.

The squad, a lot of them training full-time over the break, have played against some top quality opposition in Wolves and Kilmarnock.

Craig Johnstone takes on Louis Longridge.

Craig Johnstone takes on Louis Longridge.

The Fifers also faced sides from a higher league in Alloa, Cowdenbeath and Accies.

But the Bayview boss says his side will learn from the experience of going toe-to-toe with a decent standard of opposition.

Speaking after the Hamilton game, Aitchison said: “The guys have to learn.

“Sometimes you learn good things when you play Wolves and Kilmarnock and do the right things and the plaudits come their way but I think today was a wee alarm call for some of them to pick up their game sometimes and work hard.

Jonny Stewart protects the ball.

Jonny Stewart protects the ball.

“I think the best time to discuss the game will be Tuesday when we can sit them in front of a TV and explain a few things to them about what went wrong and let them see themselves where things went wrong.

“The development of that is important as well.

“There was a lot of young boys out there and they were an experienced side but we need to learn.”

The manager admitted that Saturday’s game against Hamilton may have been too close to the midweek game against Killie.

Scott McBride suffered an injury during the game, which like the Kilmarnock fixture, developed a bit of needle as the 90 minutes went on.

Boss Aitchison, though, said that would benefit his players.

“I’ve not got any problem with that,” he said.

“The worst thing I’d want is to play a friendly where everybody is just passing and shadowing each other - the boys have had good tempo games.

“I just think that game, not the physicality itself, was just too close to the last one.

“That’s four in 10 days which is a lot of wear and tear on the players but we’ll learn.

“This is a process now.

“We’ve played the five friendlies and worked on a lot of good things and good football.

“Today was probably a bad day at the office but we’ve got to remember that we’ve done a lot of good things with the boys as well.”

The competitive season kicks off for the Fifers this weekend when Aitchison takes his side north to face Dick Campbell’s Forfar.

The Loons have added to their squad impressively over the summer, bringing in experienced duo Marvin Andrews and Darren Dods.

“We have a few notes on them,” said the manager.

“It’s going to be a hard game.

“Forfar are a very experienced team.

“There won’t be any games in the Second Division and with them being part of our league and playing them in the cup won’t make things any easier.

“We want to win every game whether it’s a cup tie or a friendly.

“We have to keep looking forward.”

The manager added to his squad shortly after the Hamilton game when he brought in former Dunfermline and Raith striker Pat Clarke on a permanent deal.

Clarke has been playing as a trialist.