Albion Rovers 0-1 East Fife

East Fife are back up to third with just two games left to play.
East Fife are back up to third with just two games left to play.

A few seconds of quality and desire from an on-loan, 20-year-old centre half forced East Fife back into the play-off mix.

It's safe to say this wasn't a classic in Coatbridge.

But for weeks now Bayview boss Barry Smith and his players have been talking of the need to win ugly if need be to ensure their season doesn't end with a whimper.

That's exactly what happened on Saturday afternoon - with one genuine piece of outfield quality being enough to sew up the points.

I write 'outfield' because Fife 'keeper Mark Hurst more than played his part in the win, with a stunning late save from Ryan Wallace ensuring a clean sheet.

But it was fellow St Johnstone loanee Jason Kerr who won the game for East Fife in the second half with a piece of individual brilliance which showcased his desire to haul the Fifers off the floor and back into the play-off zone.

With neither side really troubling the other, shortly after the hour mark Kerr grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck when he started a move in the midfield, burst up the park with the ball and fed Chris Duggan on the edge of the box.

Kerr continued his run, took the ball back from Duggan and beat Ross Stewart.

Within moments the in-play league table had elevated East Fife from the middle of the division into third.

East Fife went into the game keen to bring to a halt a slump in results which has seen them slip out of the promotion play-off zone.

Jordan Austin’s start, along with fellow forward Duggan, signaled an attacking intent from Barry Smith.

The game didn’t get off to the flying start that some expected and it took 20 minutes for anything like an effort on goal to be created.

Wallace managed to get in behind the Fife defence but his attempt to lob Mark Hurst drifted wide.

It was the home side who were looking more menacing and passed up another decent chance just a couple of minutes later.

Conor Shields raced in one on one with Hurst but the Fife ‘keeper did well to block his strike.

East Fife almost grabbed the lead on the very stroke of half time but Kieran Duffie’s header from a Nicki Paterson free-kick came back off the post.

The opening goal arrived shortly from Kerr and gave the Methil men a shot in the arm and they went off in search of a second.

But Duggan’s influence on the game was to end 10 minutes early when he was sent off after picking up his second caution.

After already being booked, ref Alan Newlands flashed a second yellow at the striker for what he deemed to be simulation after Duggan took a tumble under pressure.

Wallace was denied by Hurst as East Fife hearts were in mouths but didn't have to wait too long to hear Alan Newland's full time whistle.

The Methil men now prepare to host Airdrieonians at the weekend, the sides two of four locked on 46 points with two play-off spots available.

East Fife have their destiny in their own hands, their goal difference far better than any other.

It's all set-up to be a cracker at Bayview, and boss Smith is calling on the Fife support to back the club in numbers.

He said: “Hopefully people realise the importance of the game and come out and support the club and give the players their backing.

“The fans have been excellent since I’ve come in but that wee final push might just get us over the edge."

East Fife - Hurst, Slattery, Kane, Kerr, Brown, Duggan, Curran, Penrice, Duffie, Austin (Smith 87), Paterson.

Subs - Gordon, Cooper, Lamont, Mutch, Reilly.

Albion Rovers - Stewart, McCann, Reid, Fisher, R Dunlop, M Dunlop, Ferry (Lightbody 79), Shields (McBride 74), Wallace, Willis, Ferguson (T Archibald 74) .

Subs - Turnbull, Potts, P Archibald.