East Fife 0-3 Hearts
(Wallace 40, Grainger 58, Novikovas 60)
EAST Fife’s pre-season friendly scheduled kicked off last Tuesday evening with a visit from SPL side Hearts.
John Robertson, a legend at the Tynecastle club, squared off in the dug out with his former manager Jim Jeffries – with the Jambo’s coach bringing across a full strength squad to test the Fifers.
However, Robertson’s side, which had been brought back into pre-season training early to ensure they were in peak fitness for the pre-season games, refused to buckle to their opponents from two leagues above and tested Janos Balogh’s goal through Ryan Wallace on.
John Sutton had a shot beaten away by Mark Ridgers before Robbo’s men almost took a deserved lead.
Darren Smith’s corner was delivered straight to the toe of Craig Johnstone whose effort took a deflection and almost made its way past Balogh.
East Fife were keen to knock the ball around amongst themselves and let their Tynecastle opponents chase the game.
New signing Scott Dalziel passed up a decent opportunity when he was fed by David Muir, but the new arrival couldn’t control the midfielder’s through ball.
It was the visitors who ended up taking the lead, arguably against the run of play, when Lee Wallace showed why so many clubs are chasing his signature by galloping through the Fife defence before hammering ing past Ridgers.
Hearts swapped their entire starting XI at half time, with the exception of ‘keeper Balogh, and dominated the opening exchanges.
But Robertson’s side offered stiff resistance and Wallace again fired in a shot on goal which hit the side netting.
There was no denying the class of Hearts’ second, though, when Danny Grainger’s direct free kick was thumped high and wide past the hapless Ridgers.
Novikovas added a swift third during a bad spell for the home side, however the introduction of subs Lloyd Young and Scott Durie injected some freshness in the Fifers who continued to press the Jambos back.
Loan signing Robert Ogleby made his Bayview debut and linked up well with Wallace before Kerr Newbigging was also given a run out.
Boss Robertson said: “I’m delighted with the players.
“As we walked off at half time I told Billy Brown (Hearts’ assistant) that I was unhappy to be 1-0 down.
“Janos Balogh has had three great saves to make in the first half and, even when they made their substitutions at half time, I thought we still competed very, very well.
“The bonus ball for us tonight was the amount of fans we got in as well.”
The game saw Fife boss Robertson give debuts to new signings Mark Ridgers, Andrew Cook, David White, Darren Smith, Scott Dalziel and Robert Ogleby.
Matthew Park also returned to the side on loan from Hearts.
East Fife - Ridgers, Cook, Park (Durie 51), Ovenstone, White, Linn, Muir, Smith, Dalziel (Ogleby 62), Wallace (Newbigging 79), Johnstone (Young 48).
Subs - Brown, Campbell.
Hearts - first half - Balogh, Hamill, Wallace, Mrowiec, Zaliukas, Webster, Stevenson, Black, Sutton, Elliot, Taouil.
Second half - Balogh, Grainger, Thomson, Barr, McGowan, Novikovas, Robinson, Obua, Templeton, Holt, Smith.
Sub - MacDonald.