Relegation can help us up

East Fife manager Gary Naysmith says he can use last season’s relegation heartbreak to help fire his side to promotion from League Two.

The Fifers go into the play-off first leg against Stenhousemuir at Bayview tonight (Wednesday), before making a return trip to Ochilview on Saturday.

Naysmith’s men secured their place in the play-offs after seeing off Elgin at Bayview at the weekend.

Attention quickly turned to Wednesday’s game against Stenny, the side who finished in the League One relegation play-off zone.

It’s a position familiar to the Fifers, who ended up dropping down a division after occupying it last season.

The Bayview boss knows how the men from the central belt are feeling, and reckons that can be used to East Fife’s advantage.

He said: “I read Brown Ferguson’s comments from over the weekend and he was talking about drawing a line under the league season and focusing on East Fife.

“We know from experience that it’s not just as simple as that when you’ve been losing a lot of games and down near the bottom of the league.

“You can’t just turn that around overnight.”

There’s no doubt the Fifers had their sights on the title when they slipped down a division last season.

After a patchy start to the season the championship was soon out of their grasp with the focus being put firmly on reaching the play-offs instead.

Ironically it took a 5-1 hammering at home to Arbroath to really kick-start the season and start a reversal of fortunes.

A steady climb up the table followed, helped in no small part to some shrewd work in the transfer market.

At the weekend a double date with Stenny was confirmed after the Fifers refused to budge from a fourth place position they gripped onto for weeks.

The manager said he has plans firmly in place to see off Stenhousemuir over the two legs.

“It’s important to remember that this match is played over 180 minutes,” said the boss.

“Nothing will be won or lost in the first game and away goals don’t count either.

“The lads will be in this week to train and we’ll look at what threats Stenhousemuir can pose us and how we can also threaten them.

“We want to win on Wednesday but it’s not absolutely vital that we do.

“I’ll be looking at both games individually and have two different sides in my mind for each one.

“If we win on Wednesday and play well it may be that some of those playing don’t play on the Saturday.”

The boss says he will have virtually a full squad to pick from with Liam Smith expected to return to the fold.

Steven Campbell was due to return to training this week and may take a place on the bench for the fixtures if fit.

Another who should return is striker Nathan Austin.

“Nathan Austin had a slight knock ahead of the Elgin game so I didn’t want to risk him,” said the manager.

“But I don’t mind saying just now that he’ll be playing.

“Over the last 10 or 12 games he’s proved what he can give to the team.

“He’ll come back in because he deserves to play.”

The manager himself remains injured and is unlikely to play any part in either of the play-off games.