High standards to be matched

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John Robertson heaped praise on star ‘keeper Mark Ridgers - then reminded him and the rest of his in-form team-mates they can soon be dropped if standards slip.

The manager told the Mail that, despite recent performances which have seen the Fifers win four league games on the bounce, he knows he has enough quality sitting in reserve, ready to step in should his men become complacent.

And nobody should feel immune from the threat said the boss, with even recent penalty-kick cup hero Ridgers urged to stay on top of his game.

The Bayview boss said: “Mark’s a tremendous goalkeeper, but the next stage of his development had to see him going to a club where he may not automatically be the first pick.

“We knew Michael Brown was going to miss part of pre-season, so Mark would get his chance.

“When he was at Airdrie last season he was always going to be first pick, but that’s not the case here.

“We said to Hearts we’d take him on loan but, if his form dropped, then Michael could come back in and make that position his own.

“We decided to go with quality over quantity at the start of the season.

“At the moment, Stevie Campbell and Lloyd Young are sitting in the stands, but I think they could walk into most teams in this league - so the players know the competition is there.”

Saturday’s win over Airdrie came just a few days after the side’s League Cup run was brought to a halt at Kilmarnock.

The manager said he couldn’t have been happier with the efforts of his side - and paid tribute to the East Fife fans who backed their team so vocally at Rugby Park.

He said: “I was absolutely delighted with the players.

“For 45 minutes, we totally matched them and looked the better team.

“Rob picked up the unfortunate bookings, got sent off, and it was always going to be difficult from there.

“But we told the players to stay in two banks of four, with Ryan Wallace up front, and we’d still create a couple of chances.

“If we could have nicked a goal, then you never know.

“I think a lot of people will have left the ground wondering ‘what if it’d stayed 11 versus 11’.

“I also want to want to thank the fans who came all the way down to Ayrshire in such big numbers and sang right until the very end of the game.

“Their backing has been tremendous all season, but on the night, it had a huge effect on the players.

“After their warm-up they were all talking about how good the atmosphere was going to be.”

East Fife will face derby rivals Cowdenbeath at Bayview on Saturday, with the boss expecting a difficult game against Colin Cameron’s men.

He said: “I know Colin and (assistant) Lee Makel well and they wanted to go with young players and a high energy this season.

“It was a brilliant game at Central Park and we felt a bit annoyed to come away with nothing.”