Fifers return to the fray with impressive show

East Fife's Joe Mbu clears the danger from Andy Kirk.
East Fife's Joe Mbu clears the danger from Andy Kirk.

WILLIE Aitchison was a contented man after watching his side secure a deserved draw in his first fixture in charge at East Fife.

Aitchison’s side started the game at a high tempo as they look to boost their fitness levels before the competitive season kicks off.

The Fifers fielded several new faces in the starting XI, but looked a team who had played together for some time.

Speaking after the game, the boss said the visit to Alloa had proved a worthwhile run out.

He said: “It was played at a good tempo.

“We spoke to the boys that Alloa would be comfortable on the surface because they’re training there everyday so the most important thing we had to do was keep possession well.

“I thought in the first 20 minutes we did that very, very well with Jonny Stewart linking up between the midfield and the back.

“The distribution was good until we got caught out with a wee sloppy goal and maybe lost our way for 10 minutes after that.

“But we adjusted and got it back.”

The game gave both the manager and the Fife fans the first chance to see the summer signings in action for their new club.

All impressed the manager.

“They slotted in well,” said Aitchison.

“I thought Alexis Dutot looked comfortable and it’s pleasing to see boys making that kind of effort to come from a foreign country and play in a different environment.

“In such a short time we got the reward of that on the pitch and as a coach that’s a good thing.”

Along with the likes of Scott Durie, Craig Johnstone, Paul Willis and Scott McBride, the manager has also brought striker Liam Gormley back to Bayview for another spell.

The forward was one of the side’s play-off heroes last season with his last gasp winner seeing of Berwick Rangers.

“I’m delighted he’s signed,” said the manager.

“I think we’ll use Liam, we sacrificed him a bit today for the shape of the team and left him a bit exposed on his own up front but he worked very, very hard.

“And that’s what I said to him, go out and get as close to 90 minutes as you can and work because the next game kicks in four days and it’s all about fitness.”

The Fifers introduced another new face at half time when midfielder Emmanuel Semodo made his debut for the Methil side.

“He will probably take a bit of time to get used to Scottish football because he’s got a light frame,” said the boss.

“At training he’s a real livewire and is adjusting to the boys and being full-time.

“He’s a great little character and always plays with a smile on his face and has already started bringing in some nice wee banter to the changing room as well.

“He played in the same team as Alexis and is one of these players that, when play is tight, he will open up teams because he knows how to turn players very quickly.

“He has a great centre of gravity and a great passing range too.

“He’s traditionally a right back but I’m very comfortable putting him in anywhere in midfield or in behind the strikers.”

ANALYSIS

The result may not be too important, but this pre-season draw against Alloa will still offer Fife fans hope for the season ahead.

New Bayview boss Willie Aitchison fielded a Fife side for the first time at Recreation Park and included a mix of new signings, trialists and returning players from last season in his line-up.

The new team seemed to blend straight from the start as the Fifers really pressed their hosts.

There was a spine through the Fife side with goalkeeper Michael Andrews, central defenders Alexis Dutot and Joe Mbu and midfieilder Jonny Stewart standing out.

Full backs Craig Johnstone and Scott Durie looked keen to attack, as did Paul Willis and Scott McBride from the midfield, while it was pleasing, considering the raft of new signings at the club, to see youngster Ross Brown and Liam Gormley given starting places.

The Fifers started at a decent pace and dominated an Alloa side who are preparing for First Division football this season.

Stewart in particular looked composed on the ball as he linked between defence and attack.

Despite their domination, though, the Fifers were unable to carve out too many clear openings and it was Alloa who had the first real chance of the game when Andy Kirk mis-kicked a sitter from eight yards out.

This served to act as a wake up call to the Methil men and Gormley was unlucky not to see his header from a Paul Willis cross land in the net.

Scott McBride was the next to try and break the deadlock but his drive was saved by Scott Bain.

Alloa opened the scoring when Willie Robertson turned inside the box and unleashed a curling strike which found a way past Andrews.

From there both clubs began to roll their subs on with the Fifers bringing on another of their new signings, Emmanuel Semedo.

The little midfielder looked determined to put himself about and almost pulled East Fife level when he found space outside the box and unleashed a strike which sailed past Bain’s post.

The Fifers deserved a goal for their effort and nobody more so than Stewart.

When a loose ball broke kindly to him inside the area the Fife midfielder lashed a strike home which gave Bain no chance.

There was no further scoring but the Fifers will have no doubt been pleased with their performance and in particular a solid defensive display from Aitchison’s new pairing at the back of Dutot and Mbu who looked assured.