Fifers misfire against the Shire

Fraser Mullen looks to put a halt to this Shire attack. By www.alanmurrayphotography.co.uk

Fraser Mullen looks to put a halt to this Shire attack. By www.alanmurrayphotography.co.uk

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East Fife have quite rightly taken the plaudits following their performances in cup games against Falkirk and Dumbarton.

But it’s difficult to heap too much praise on them following their league season opener away at East Stirlingshire.

This was by no means a bad East Fife performance, just one which appeared sluggish and lethargic.

In the final third of the pitch in particular the Fifers were blunt and ‘Shire ‘keeper Ritchie Barnard was rarely tested.

To be fair, neither was the visiting ‘keeper Ryan Goodfellow with both sides huffing and puffing without really creating any end result.

It quickly became apparent that whoever scored the game’s first goal had probably done enough to win the game.

Nathan Austin had a half chance at goal in the opening exchanges while Craig Murray blasted over the bar.

The game was a battle in the midfield with neither side really coming out on top.

The travelling support was howling for a penalty as Jon Tully came crashing through the back of Austin.

The match officials, though, were having none of it.

East Fife started the second half the better with Kyle Wilkie in particular poking and probing at the Shire defence.

But the Fife midfielder cut a frustrated figure as none of his work created any sort of clear sight of goal.

The Shire looked dangerous on the break and it was from one such counter attack that they grabbed the game’s only goal.

East Fife were unable to clear their lines and the ball broke to Lloyd Kinnaird on the edge of the box.

The right back isn’t known for his goals but finished in style, drilling past Goodfellow.

Gary Naysmith rung the changes from the bench and on came Ross Brown, Allan Walker and Craig Sutherland to freshen things up.

East Fife remained camped in the Shire half but were just unable to break down a stubborn defence.

There was enough time for another East Fife penalty claim when Nathan Shepherd looked to have handled inside his box.

A high ball over the top of the defence was on its way through to Sutherland but Shepherd tried to head clear, only for the ball to bounce down on his hand.

Whether or not the left back could have done anything to avoid the contact is dubious and, again, the claims of the travelling support were snubbed.

Play continued and the ball broke for Sutherland who wasn’t able to really test Barnard.

The miss simply summed up what was a frustrating, but not disastrous, afternoon at the office for the Fifers who will look to bounce straight back when Berwick visit on Saturday.