What a difference a year makes....or not

Steven Campbell (number 5) pulls East Fife level.
Steven Campbell (number 5) pulls East Fife level.

A season which started with so much optimism will end with East Fife finishing in one of League One’s two relegation spots.

That was confirmed on Saturday when Airdrie’s 2-1 win over the Fifers and Brechin’s win at Stranraer by the same scoreline meant they both put themselves out of reach of the second bottom Methil side.

The best East Fife can hope for now is that they continue to out-point bottom place Arbroath, who sit menacingly just one point behind them, and secure a place in the play-offs.

They say the more things change the more they stay the same, and after a season of large overhaul at Bayview East Fife still find themselves likely to end the season in the nail-biting play-off system - just like they did 12 months ago.

It’s a far cry from the hopes of August when a new manager, an influx of new players and a boardroom takeover had East Fife’s fans dreaming of a promotion push.

But that never looked likely to materialise and despite some good performances on the park, including two Fife derby wins, East Fife still find themselves scratching around for league survival.

On Saturday the Fifers travelled to Airdrie knowing that, realistically, they needed all three points if they were to have any chance of leapfrogging the Diamonds.

But Airdrie flew out the traps and a shell shocked East Fife could genuinely have found themselves two or three goals down before forcing their way into the game.

Scott Durie had an effort ruled out for offside, one of five goals to be ruled out during the 90 minutes, and Nathan Austin smashed the post.

Caolan McAleer gave Airdrie the lead when he was allowed to burst in from the wing and fire an effort past Greg Paterson.

To their credit East Fife rolled up their sleeves and showed the spirit to stay up that they’ll need pouring out of them when Brechin visit on Saturday.

They quickly re-established themselves in the game when defender Steven Campbell shrugged off his marker at a corner and sent a fine header past Grant Adam.

The three points were there for the taking for both sides and the play swung from end to end.

Gaps were opening in both defences and sadly for East Fife the hosts took full advantage of one of theirs.

Jim Lister was afforded time inside the box to send another effort well beyond East Fife’s Paterson.

A year down the line, different players, management and board but that same familiar sinking feeling in the stomach of the East Fife fans.