East Fife 1-1 Heart of Midlothian (EF win 7-6 on penalties)

The Fifers celebrate Chris Duggan's equaliser. Pic by Kenny Mackay.
The Fifers celebrate Chris Duggan's equaliser. Pic by Kenny Mackay.

What a difference a week makes.

Seven days ago East Fife fans shuffled into Bayview with the memory of a poor 2-0 Fife derby defeat to League Two Cowdenbeath fresh in their minds.

Fast forward seven days, and the club had won twice, drawn once and turned in arguably one of their best performances in some years, all contributing to them being on the verge of an unlikely advance out of their Betfred Cup group.

Grouped with Dundee United and Hearts, few would given the Fifers a realistic chance of progression.

On Saturday night they were just a winner in Sunday's Dundee v Inverness Caley game away from doing just that.

It's out of their hands, but the fact they're still in with a shout is truly stunning.

It started last week with an improved performance from Cowden and a 2-0 win at home against Stenhousemuir.

Then came Tannadice on Tuesday night and a quite brilliant, energetic, dominant showing against Championship club Dundee United on their home patch, again resulting in a 2-0 victory.

That set up a winner takes all meeting against Hearts at Bayview on Saturday afternoon.

Neither did enough to win the game, but the draw was enough to see Hearts progress despite the Fifers winning the bonus point on penalties.

Darren Young's side looked to be suffering the effects of Tuesday's game during the opening stages on Saturday, and found themselves behind to Jamie Walker's goal, the forward finishing off a Craig Halkett cross.

It was desperate stuff from East Fife who were forced to defend deep against the Jambos.

Craig Levein's side were dominant but, crucially, couldn't extend their lead.

That gave the Fifers a chance, and an improved second half showing saw them respond, get level, and with it a chance of winning a bonus point.

Within nine minutes of the re-start they grabbed the equaliser when Ryan Wallace raced into the Hearts box and crossed for Chris Duggan to convert.

Hearts had looked strong in the opening 45, but crumbled after the Fife goal.

The visiting support started to get on the back of their manager, and that translated to the park.

East Fife took advantage, and with the Jambos sloppy in possession, were unlucky not to punish them through Duggan again.

Neither side could find the crucial third goal, though, and the game went to spot kicks.

East Fife looked to have the bonus point in the bag when Sean Clare and Oliver Bozniac missed Hearts' first two penalties.

But they managed to claw back the deficit and force the shoot-out into sudden death.

After Brett Long saved from Aaron Hickey it was left to Aaron Dunsmore, ironically a former Hibs defender, to do the honours for East Fife.

He duly sent his spot kick past Zdenek Zlamal, sending East Fife above Dundee United and into second place in Group A in the process.

Home boss Darren Young said: "I can't ask anymore from the players.

"We started the week knowing we needed to win the three games to possibly win the group and we're still in there.

"We beat Stenny, got a clean sheet at Utd away and then the win on penalties against Hearts."