Aitchison reflects on Ibrox defeat

Craig Johnstone tries to create an opening for the Fifers.
Craig Johnstone tries to create an opening for the Fifers.

East Fife boss Willie Aitchison was left to rue his side’s defensive mistakes at Ibrox as the Fifers went down 5-0 to the Glasgow club.

Aitchison said that errors cost his team dearly with East Fife falling behind with only seconds of the game played.

To be fair, East Fife will not be the only club to go down at Ibrox by a similar margin as the season goes on, with Rangers having already signalled their intent this year with a few high-scoring wins.

The pressure was largely off East Fife going into the game following the win at home to Arbroath the previous week.

All at Bayview will know that home games against the likes of Arbroath will be the real bread and butter of this year’s campaign.

Aitchison, though, still reckoned that his men could have done a little bit more to keep the score down at Ibrox.

He said: “They score and suddenly 45,000 people are up for it and that’s the problem.

“The plan was to stay composed and keep them quiet for 10 minutes and get onto our own game plan.

“But we waited until the second goal went in before we started doing that.

“We had 25 minutes in the middle of the first half when we did well – just before we lost the third one from a sloppy free-kick.

“The football was good enough.

“I said that to them at half time that we were comfortable on the ball but, if we’re going to make mistakes, we need to make them two-thirds up the park and not in front of our own goals.”

The Fifers went into the game handing a debut to new signing Robbie Neilson.

The former Hearts defender joins fellow experienced pro Gary Naysmith at Bayview with the boss hoping their 
arrivals can keep the Methil men pushing in the right 

Aitchison said that he hoped the addition of Neilson could see a role a little further up the park for the likes of Craig Johnstone and Alexis Dutot.

At Ibrox, though, the manager admitted that he had to make some swift changes to his formation.

He said: “We tried to start with a three with Robbie, Joe (Mbu) and Gary (Thom) at the back, get Alexis (Dutot) and Craig Johnstone a bit further up the park and drop off to a five and a four in the middle.

“But it didn’t work because Alexis was losing his way a wee bit so we switched and went to the four and brought Alexis in a wee bit and he was far more comfortable.”

Dutot, impressive in pre-season, has endured a frustrating start to life at New Bayview, having picked up some niggling injuries.

Aitchison told the Mail that this again flared up during the game at Ibrox, with Dutot taken off minutes into the second half.

The manager said: “The problem is that he has picked up a strain in his leg again and it tightened up again at half time.

“We’ve given him the chance to start but he’s broke down.”

Another missing from the game was Gary Naysmith.

“Gary broke down on Thursday night,” said the boss.

“He was over getting physio treatment but if we’re going to lose Gary I’d prefer to lose him today than against teams where we can probably match them.”

“Robbie is a free agent.

“It’s the same as with Gary and Christian we’ll just work away with them and the rest of the boys and see if we can build up the squad.

“Robbie is a fantastic pro and I thought he had a great game out there apart from the mistake for their fourth.

“The option had Scott (Durie) been available was to push him a bit further up the park and that would have given us a better balance with Lee and David Templeton coming down the left side.”

“It’s a public thing to get the community back involved with the club and let the boys enjoy themselves.

“We’re going to do a wee mini pre-season now for the next two weeks so we’ll use Saturday as a break from that.”