Fifers handle physical city

East Fife manager Barry Smith
East Fife manager Barry Smith

East Fife’s strong league form continued at the weekend with Bayview boss Barry Smith delighted to see a different side to his team.

The Fifers raced into a two goal lead against Brechin City on Saturday before eventually being pegged back to 2-2.

The game, it’s fair to say, had a physical edge to it, with the visitors, while by no means playing dirty, keen to out muscle their hosts.

But East Fife are no shrinking violets themselves, and when things did get rough, they rolled up their sleeves and stood their ground.

It was a dimension to the side the gaffer was delighted to see.

He said: “They showed a different side to them on Saturday and proved they can handle the physical side of things.

“It’s something they coped with very well.”

Smith was equally as delighted with the way his side dusted themselves down after surrendering their two goal advantage.

It would have been easy for the Fifers to become frustrated at Brechin’s comeback, but, instead, they recovered and pressed on to find a winner.

It eventually came when Jamie Insall won a penalty which Chris Duggan put away.

“When you lose a 2-0 lead it can be easy to lose focus,” said the East Fife boss.

“But after they scored their second goal we regrouped.

“The lads in the middle of the park did well to stand up to the physicality.

“Ross Brown took a lot of hits but he handled everything they threw at him where maybe if he didn’t have the right mentality he’d be wanting to come off.”

The game swung back in East Fife’s favour in the second half when Smith introduced on-loan Hibs striker Insall from the bench.

The forward was keen to make an impact in the time he had on the park, and it was a foul on him which led to the winning penalty.

Insall’s attitude to being asked to come off the bench impressed his manager.

Smith said: “Jamie has been unfortunate because with the way the team has been playing he’s not been starting.

“But we know what he can bring to us.

“Despite being on the bench he’s still a player who wants to do well for the team when he comes on rather than sitting on the bench in a huff.”

The penalty Insall won at the weekend was put away by on-form striker Duggan who has now netted three penalties in two games.

He’s a player, according to Smith, looking sharper every week.

This weekend the Fife strike force will turn their attention to Peterhead.

The Blue Toon sit third bottom of League One but remarkably just four points off East Fife in fourth position.

“The whole league is so tight we know that we need to keep playing the way we have been and picking up points,” said Smith.

“Going up to Peterhead is never easy but the players have shown recently that we have the right mentality.”

East Fife will be without Nicki Paterson for the weekend after he was given a straight red card in their match with Brechin City.

More positively Scott Robinson is expected back in training this week so may make the Peterhead match.