East Fife face Raith - with one eye on Falkirk

Nathan Austin in action for East Fife against Hearts. Pic: George McLuskie
Nathan Austin in action for East Fife against Hearts. Pic: George McLuskie

The 2015-16 season is around the corner and East Fife boss Gary Naysmith says he’ll use Saturday’s friendly with an eye on the big kick-off.

The Fifers face Kingdom rivals Raith Rovers at Bayview at the weekend as the Methil side’s pre-season campaign comes to an end.

Seven days later, the side travels to Falkirk in the first round of the Petrofac Training Cup as the competitive season gets under way.

Throughout pre-season, the Bayview boss has used the games to run the rule over a host of trialists, but he says he’s more likely to use the Raith match to prepare for the following week.

Naysmith said: “Against Raith, we have to start looking to how we’re going to play against Falkirk.

“I’m not saying in terms of personnel, but I have a shape in my mind that I want to play against Falkirk, so I want to have a wee chance to have a look at that.”

East Fife racked up their first win during pre-season as they overcame a young Hearts XI at Bayview.

It was a confidence-boosting win for the Methil side, who really impressed despite the age and experience level of their opponents.

The Jambos’ first team squad was in Oban at a pre-season tournament, with only former Raith Rovers midfielder Liam Fox, now a coach at Tynecastle, the recognisable name.

Naysmith said it was a worthwhile 90 minutes for his men.

“I thought we started really, really well and, at 2-0, it looked as if it was going to be really comfortable for us,” said the gaffer.

“But I’ve played in games like that myself when it’s 2-0 and you start to take the foot off the pedal and try things you wouldn’t normally do.

“To be fair to Hearts, it was a really young team but there are lot of good youngsters there and they play the game in the right way.

“They came back into it and caused us one or two problems.

“But their ‘keeper was probably man of the match and Fash (Nathan Austin) could have had five or six goals.

“But, at the same time, they could have scored another couple as well, so there are things to be happy with in terms of going forward and attacking, and lots to work on defensively as a team.”

The Bayview gaffer fancied Hearts’ number one Kelby Masson as his man of the match – and he was certainly the busiest ‘keeper of the two.

This was due, in no small part, to the constant threat posed by Fife striker Austin.

The Hearts side was young but they certainly appeared athletic.

However, despite the muscle, they found themselves struggling to cope with the physical presence of the forward.

Austin appears to have picked up from where he left off last season, and what he can go on the achieve this campaign should be a source of excitement for the Fife support.

“He’s starting to grasp what it is to be a professional footballer now,” said Naysmith.

“He is stronger, he looks as if he has more of an idea of what to do with the ball at his feet, he’s taking up good positions when he’s not on the ball, and all of that is great for us.

“That’s three goals in two games in pre-season and hasn’t had his holiday yet, so he’s away now.

“He’ll miss the Raith Rovers game but will be back for Falkirk.”