Play-offs are in fife hands

Jordan Austin and Chris Kane put Rovers 'keeper Ross Stewart under pressure.
Jordan Austin and Chris Kane put Rovers 'keeper Ross Stewart under pressure.

East Fife can go a long way to securing a play-off place on Saturday when they face fellow promotion chasers Airdrieonians.

And there’s no magic formula needed to snatch a place in the end of season finale, with boss Barry Smith calling on his side to just keep doing what they have been doing all season.

It’s been a terrific campaign for the Methil club who have put themselves in with a real shout of succesive promotions.

Last year’s League Two winners settled into life a division higher with ease and have rarely came close to even flirting with the notion of dropping back down.

And there’s still life in the current season yet, with the club in the driving seat to finish off the campaign in third place.

Smith wants the side to go out and grab the opportunity with both hands.

He said: “We play Airdrie on Saturday but just have to look after ourselves.

“We know what it’s going to take for us to get into the play-offs and all the players have to do is just keep on doing what they’ve been doing.

“The club has the best defensive record in the division and we also know we have quality in other areas.”

Saturday’s visitors are one of four sides, including East Fife, locked on 46 points with just two games left to play.

In young striker Andy Ryan they have a potent weapon, but Smith insists it’s not just the 22-year-old the side will have to keep quiet.

He said: “Andy Ryan is a good striker but they also have players like Ryan Conroy and Kyle Hutton who have played at a high level and Iain Russell always helps out with his goals.

“But if we do our job properly then we have good qualities to cause them problems.”

East Fife go into the game on the back of a hard earned 1-0 win against Albion Rovers at the weekend.

Jason Kerr’s second half goal was all the split the sides with Smith saying it was crucial the Fifers returned to the Kingdom with the three points to keep their season alive.

And such is the Fifers’ impressive goal difference the win, coupled with results elsewhere, meant the side hoisted itself into third place at a crucial point in the campaign.

The Bayview manager admitted it was a crucial win for the club.

“The win was important for a lot of reasons, not just in terms of where we are in the league,” said Smith.

“It puts us back in a good position but we still have two difficult games to come and need the same level of determination and hard work.

“For as much as we were on a bad run, there were reasons for that.

“Cliftonhill is never an easy place to go and get a result so it’s really good to come back with the three points and means we can go into the Airdrie game with a bit of confidence.”

The manager was delighted with the performances of defender Kerr and fellow St Johnstone loanee Mark Hurst.

“Jason has done really well for us,” he said.

“He’s still young and will make mistakes and although he got the goal for us I thought defensively he really stood his ground.

“Mark Hurst is another who has done well since coming back in as well and had some crucial saves.”

Luke Watt is expected to be back in the squad for Saturday.