EAST Fife were denied the win their performance deserved by a late Gavin Swankie free-kick.
The Fifers performed as well as they have done for a long time in the clash against the league’s second-placed side, twice taking the lead through Andrew Cook and Steven Hislop.
Sadly, they were unable to hold on to their advantage, which they surrendered to strikes from Stuart Malcolm and Swankie.
The home side took the lead when Bobby Linn’s drive had to be touched around the post by Arbroath ‘keeper Darren Hill.
From the corner kick, the visitors were unable to clear their lines, with the ball falling to Cook who pounced from 18 yards and rifled home.
Josh Falkingham was unlucky not to haul Paul Sheerin’s men level when his direct free-kick whistled inches wide.
Player-boss Sheerin had a hand in his side’s equaliser when his corner kick was met by the head of Malcolm, who nodded home.
East Fife still harbour hopes of reaching the promotion play-off zone and came out for the second 45 with intent.
They regained their lead just a few minutes into the second half when Craig Johnstone twisted and turned on the wing before feeding Hislop, who composed himself before beating Hill.
Scott Durie should have made sure that all three points stayed in Methil when his run was picked out by Ryan Wallace.
But the defender decided to take a touch instead of shooting first time, allowing Hill the time to get off his line and close down his strike.
And East Fife were made to pay for the missed opportunity to kill the game off when Swankie picked himself up after being fouled on the edge of the area and sent his free-kick past Michael Brown.
East Fife - Brown, Durie, Campbell, White, Cook, Linn, Janczyk, McCormack, Johnstone (Sloan (60), Hislop (Dalziel 76), Wallace. Subs - Collier, Ovenstone, McQuade.
Arbroath - Hill, Busch, Malcolm (Gibson 75), Wedderburn, Brown (Caddis 56), Baxter, Kerr, Falkingham, Sheerin, Doris, Sibanda (Swankie 70). Subs - Burns, McAnespie.
Referee - Gary Hilland.
Attendance - 617.
Starcheck ratings - Linn 3 points, Hislop 2, Johnstone 1.
Starcheck table - Ryan Wallace 26, Bobby Linn 24, Mark Ridgers 17, Darren Smith 12, Michael Brown 12, Craig Johnstone 12, Rob Ogleby 11, , Scott Durie 9, Matthew Park 8, John Ovenstone 7, David White 4, Steve Campbell 3, Steve Hislop 3, David Muir 3, Chris Innes 2, , Lloyd Young 1 Robert Sloan 1, Neil Janczyk 1.