Fifers’ solitary spot kick breaks Diamonds’ hearts

Mark Docherty tucks away a penalty for East Fife against Airdrieonians for a 1-0 win (picture by Jim Corstorphine)
Mark Docherty tucks away a penalty for East Fife against Airdrieonians for a 1-0 win (picture by Jim Corstorphine)

Airdrieonians 0, East Fife 1

East Fife travelled to the Excelsior Stadium to face Airdrieonians, looking to get their season back on track after back-to-back home defeats in League I – and succeeded by claiming all three points, thanks to a Mark Docherty penalty on the stroke of half time.

Manager Darren Young made two changes to the side that lost to Queen’s Park last time out, with Ben Gordon and Paul Willis making way for Kieran Millar and Jonathan Page, who made his first start in six months following a long injury lay-off.

The visitors had a let-off inside the first minute when Jake Hastie broke down the right but his shot flashed across the face of the goal. Minutes later, a long throw saw the ball eventually fall for Kyle Wilkie who, after working some space for himself inside the area, forced Diamonds ‘keeper Rohan Ferguson to turn his strike behind for a corner.

East Fife had the ball in the back of the net from the resulting corner. However, the whistle had rightly gone for a push on Airdrieonians’ defender Jordan McGregor.

Ryan Tierney tried his luck with a free kick from 25 yards for the home side but the ball was comfortably collected by Mark Hurst in the East Fife goal.

A nice bit of play by Wilkie and Nathan Flanagan down the right teed up Greg Hurst, but his strike from 15 yards was just off target. Hurst had another opportunity a couple of minutes later, when Ferguson failed to deal with a corner from Wilkie, but the ball just wouldn’t sit up for him at the back post.

Former Stenhousemuir striker Willis Furtado, signed by the home side earlier in the week, wasted a good opportunity for the home side on 27 minutes when he fired high and wide from a promising position. At the other end, Ferguson did well to turn a Hurst drive, from a tight angle, behind for a corner.

Aidrieonians were looking dangerous on the break but lacked composure in front of goal; Hastie was unable to find the target from the edge of the area on this occasion.

The visitors were awarded a penalty shortly before the break when Aaron Dunsmore was taken out inside the area by former Fifer Luke Watt. Referee Greg Aitken was perfectly positioned and showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Mark Docherty stepped up and gave the visitors a deserved lead with a Penenka-style spot kick.

David Brownlie should have levelled the match shortly after the re-start, when Ryan Conroy’s corner was knocked down into his path, but Brownlie just failed to connect at the front post. Tom Fry went close again for the home side on 54 minutes, when he curled a volley narrowly wide of Hurst’s left-hand post.

Chris Duggan was unlucky not to double the visitors’ lead on 58 minutes when he got the better of his man down the left and cut inside, only to see Diamonds’ ‘keeper Ferguson stop his goal-bound shot with his legs.

Jake Hastie ruined any chance of a comeback from the home side when he was foolishly sent for an early shower by referee Aitken, after picking up two bookings within the space of a minute. The first was for a blatant dive on the edge of the area; the second for his continued protests at the decision.

The visitors tried to take advantage of the extra man, with Hurst unfortunate not to find the net with a left-footed volley from eight yards.

Conroy went close to finding an equaliser for the home side when he got on the end of a cross from Watt but was denied by a fine stop from Hurst. A mix-up in the home defence gave Duggan the chance to extend the visitors’ lead but he couldn’t find the target from 12-yards.

Goalkeeper Hurst was called into action again with a minute left on the clock, producing a fine save under pressure to clear Watt’s free kick.

It was a great three points for East Fife, with some terrific performance across the park.

Airdrieonians: Ferguson, Stewart, MacDonald, Brownlie, McGregor, Conroy (McIntosh 80’), Hastie, Watt, Fry (Allan 67’), Furtado, Tierney (Thomson 68’). Subs: Cairns, Edwards, Russell, Kerr.

East Fife: M. Hurst, Dunsmore, Page, Watson, Linton, Docherty, Wilkie (Reilly70’), G. Hurst, Millar, Flanagan (Slattery 45’), Duggan (Kane 82’). Subs – Goodfellow, Lamont, Wilson, Willis.

Referee – Greg Aitken.

Attendance – 783.