ANOTHER away win, this time 3-1 over Brechin City, took East Fife level on points with Stenhousemuir in fourth place in the race for a play-off spot, after a well-deserved triumph at Glebe Park.
The second win in consecutive weeks on the road saw the Fifers fight their way back into the game, having lost a goal at a set-piece, although they had the better of it up to that point.
After the break, they had a few close shaves but eventually won comfortably with Ryan Wallace getting his first hat-trick for the club, after last week becoming the first Fifer since Kenny Deuchar to get to the 20-mark in a season.
The same starting line-up from the win at Dumbarton the previous week was no surprise and the visitors opened positively.
A Scott Dalziel effort went close in the first few minutes and then former Brechin man Neil Janczyk made Nelson make a save.
Janczyk went close following a Robert Sloan pass, while a quick free kick from Wallace got Scott Durie free but Nelson held his attempt. East Fife continued to dominate and Darren Smith had a shot following a corner but missed the target.
City did have the odd raid forward with Paul McManus their main threat, while a Hodge free kick brought out a decent save from Brown.
A couple of minutes later, Brechin took the lead. A corner from Hodge saw central defender Ewan Moyes rise unmarked and he headed the home side in front.
East Fife re-established their superiority and, after a defender had cleared near the line, Andrew Cook had an effort saved by Nelson.
Darren McCormack twice came to the rescue as the home side countered.
An excellent passage of play did bring the equaliser. Robert Sloan found Bobby Linn and his pass sent Wallace in for his third goal in a week, through the keeper’s legs from a tight angle.
The rest of the half saw East Fife dominate but the hosts’ direct style always gave them a threat.
The second period opened with Brechin forcing the issue. McManus went very close with a shot across goal and Dunlop’s effort was not too far over the bar, with Brown beaten.
The Fifers got back in control and had a few attempts that did not cause too many problems – before Wallace intervened again.
Quick movement on the edge of the area saw him get a sight of goal from a Sloan pass and his shot was just outwith Nelson’s reach, to give the Fifers the lead.
David Muir and Steve Hislop replaced Janczyk and Dalziel with 25 minutes remaining.
The persistent McManus made Brown earn his wages with a good save and an angle drive from McKenzie was only inches wide of the post.
Smith had a chance and a Linn shot was on target when saved by Nelson. A desperate header from a defender rebounded off the bar and a David Muir header, from a Linn corner, came off the outside of the post.
The clincher came in the last minute when Sloan unselfishly provided Wallace, after drawing the home keeper, for a tap in.
Brechin City ‑ Nelson, McLean, Dunlop, Buist, Moyes, Brady, McKenzie, Molloy, McManus, McKenna (Lister 62), Hodge (King 46/Fusco 80). Subs (not used) McLaughlan, Scott.
East Fife ‑ Brown, Durie, Cook, McCormack, White, Smith, Linn, Janczyk (Muir 65), Dalziel (Hislop 65), Wallace, Sloan. Subs (not used) Ovenstone, McQuade, Collier.
Referee ‑ R. Madden.
Attendance ‑ 525.
Starcheck ratings - Wallace 3 points, McCormack 2, Sloan 1.
Starcheck table - Ryan Wallace 44, Bobby Linn 36, Michael Brown 22, Mark Ridgers 17, Darren Smith 17, Robert Sloan 14, Craig Johnstone 12, Rob Ogleby 11, Steve Campbell 10, Scott Durie 10, John Ovenstone 9, Matthew Park 8, David White 8, Steve Hislop 5, David Muir 3, Andrew Cook 2, Chris Innes 2, Darren McCormack 2, Neil Janczyk 1, Lloyd Young 1.