Clyde 1-1 East Fife (aet, agg 2-1): Fifers impress but lose out on promotion bid
T he Fifers fought valiantly and were the better team over the course of the two legs although Martin Rennie showed his clinical finishing, doing the damage in both legs of the tie.
Knowing they had a mountain to climb, East Fife started fast, and with purpose, knocking the ball about with some serious poise. The game kicked off, and just after it got going, it came to a screeching halt, as Sam Denham pulled up with injury.
There was no contact, and the youngster pulled up, it appeared to be an injury to the knee. Aidan Quinn made his return to the squad, replacing Denham on the night.
Boss Greig McDonald’s instructions seemed clear from the start, from the stands, attack the ball, get it on the deck, and pass through their lines, rather than the lofted ball that the Methil Men attempted on several occasions over the duration of the first leg.
This paid off after just 10 minutes, as Brogan Walls slotted Scott Shepard through for a one-on-one with Ryan Mullen. The forward’s cheeky finish soared through Mullen’s grasp rippling the net for Fife to square up the aggregate.
East Fife’s tiki-taka-esque build up play was still at times being matched by Clyde’s route one football, and Fleming and Mullen were both forced into saves in the half. Jack Healy tried his textbook curled effort from the edge of the area, but Mullen was prepared, and caught the shot with ease.
Kurtis Roberts gave the Bully Wee a shot on target too, but his driven shot from range was straight down Fleming’s throat.
East Fife totally dominated the opening half, and Clyde looked completely out of the side, and were forced into making changes at the break, with Martin Rennie and Barry Cuddihy coming into the game.
The second half did not bare the same dominance for the Fifers, as Clyde pulled themselves back into the tie and did not allow East Fife to play with the same composure as the first half. No clear cut chances were created for the majority of the half, and East Fife still looked the more likely of the two sides to score.
That was until the 82nd minute when Scott Shepard was handed a second booking in three minutes and was sent for an early shower. The second yellow was understandable, as the striker’s arm was flailing after jumping for a header, connecting with the Clyde defender on the way back to the ground.
However, the first booking was incredibly harsh, as Shepard won the ball with a sliding challenge, before he was adjudged to have missed the ball by Napier.
The sending off ended East Fife’s control of the game, and they had to survive a barrage at the end of the half to get to extra time.
In the first period of extra time, Connor McManus had a great chance to give East Fife the lead against the odds, as his volley from the edge of the box was right at the ‘keeper. The half teetered out, with East Fife looking like they were tiring, but still giving everything they had.
Unfortunately, their dreams were shattered as the second period of extra time began.
Martin Rennie was the man for Clyde again; tapping in a rebound from a great Allan Fleming save in the 107th minute.
This ended East Fife’s maiden season back in League Two confirming that they would remain the Scottish fourth tier for a second season.
The young squad produced some fantastic moments and memories along the way, but in the end Clyde’s experience, and game-management was just too much for them on the day.