East Fife 2-3 Ayr United

In the grand scheme of things this defeat won't do much damage - but there was still a sense of deflation around Bayview at the end of the 90 minutes.

Saturday, 31st March 2018, 8:25 pm
Updated Saturday, 31st March 2018, 9:03 pm
East Fife went down to the league leaders in a thriller at Bayview.
East Fife went down to the league leaders in a thriller at Bayview.

Everything that has gone right and wrong with East Fife's season was pretty much condensed into this 90 minutes.

There were times the Fifers were at their best.

Chris Duggan's finishing proving why he's one of the best players in the league.

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Aaron Dunsmore's quality deliveries; Jonathan Page and Scott Allardice's increasingly impressive partnership at the back; Kieran Millar and Connor McManus - absolute work horses in the middle of the park.

There was not one personal battle lost by the Fife XI on Saturday afternoon.

And then you have the other side of the coin.

The poor decision making; giving the ball away cheaply and, yeah, you guessed it, the inability to defend set pieces.

Every team will lose preventable goals in a season, but for the Fifers that figure must be well into double digits already and goals lost from corners will be stacked high.

Ayr United are by far the best team in League One, on their day unplayable and free-scoring.

They started well and things looked ominous when Alan Forrest raced in on Ben MacKenzie's goal, rounded the 'keeper and netted.

Some would have expected Ayr to kick on and increase their lead, but East Fife responded brilliantly, and equalised when Duggan's excellent ball striking technique saw him swerve and curl his strike from 20 yards beyond Jack Ruddy who simply couldn't keep track of the ball's path.

Rather than the equaliser flattering the home side, they totally merited it and went in search of number two.

It arrived a few minutes into the second 45 when Dunsmore's through ball carved open the Ayr defence and set Duggan free on Ruddy's goal.

Duggan still had plenty of work to do, but was the calmest man inside Bayview as he casually lobbed the visiting goalie.

It was East Fife at their best, menacing and dangerous on the break.

But, it didn't last, and Ayr were level when the home side couldn't keep hold of possession and gave away a corner.

Craig McGuffie send in the set-piece which was met by the head of Steven Bell and beyond MacKenzie.

Same old, same old.

A draw would probably have been a fair reflection, but there was to be another cruel twist when Craig Watson was judged to have hauled down Bell inside the box.

Ref David Lowe pointed to the spot and Craig Moore stepped up to ensure a vital win on the Honest Men which was cruel on Darren Young's side.

Young said: “We have ourselves to blame.

“We can feel sorry for ourselves but have to look at our decisions during the game and our game management.

“At 2-1 up you don’t need to be playing the ball back to the goalkeeper.

“Can you go in behind and you’re then in their half rather than it going back and any mistake is capitalised on.

“But again we’ve shot ourselves in the foot."