Fifers show their steel in 1-0 win

Nathan Austin waits for support as the Rovers defenders close in.
Nathan Austin waits for support as the Rovers defenders close in.

Saturday was an afternoon when East Fife could have been forced to host an Albion Rovers title party at Bayview as their own play-off dreams were damaged.

Had Rovers, the league leaders, taken all three points from the match they would have been crowned champions if Queen’s Park had slipped up at home to Annan.

But the Fifers were under pressure to get the win themselves, knowing a clutch of teams below them all had their eyes on the fourth spot occupied by the Methil men.

As it turned out, East Fife handled their pressure a heck of a lot better than Rovers and deserve huge credit for grinding out a crucial win.

It wasn’t the prettiest of games but, with East Fife hit by injuries forcing several players to start out of position, that doesn’t matter in the slightest.

Jordan Leyden was handed his debut for East Fife in the middle of the park and he showed a real willingness to get from box to box.

Ross Brown accompanied him in the middle of the park as did Fraser Mullen and Sean Dickson in an unfamiliar middle four.

It may have been make shift, but what a shift the four put in to largely stop Rovers creating anything to threaten a defence which had boss Gary Naysmith also playing out of position at right back.

Fife assistant Dougie Anderson said following the game the Fifers had been in no mood to host a Rovers title party.

And from the first whistle they set off on the front foot, looking to grab the crucial first goal on an afternoon when a swirling wind made life difficult for both sides.

In fact, the wind almost helped East Fife break the deadlock, with Brown’s corner kick being held up in the gust and dropping on top of the Rovers bar.

Kevin Smith had a lot of joy getting in behind the visitors’ defence and firstly picked out Leyden eight yards from goal.

The on-loan Partick midfielder was unable to get hold of his strike, though, and sliced wide.

Shortly afterwards Smith again got in behind the Rovers back four and this time picked out Sean Dickson.

Dickson got to Smith’s pass before the covering defenders and beat Neil Parry from six yards.

Eddie Ferns wasted a great chance to pull Rovers level when he blasted over from six yards but, in truth, that was the worst the Fife defence had to deal with.

The home side stayed on the front foot and had a decent appeal for a penalty turned down when Nathan Austin’s drive appeared to strike the hand of defender Mick Dunlop.