Houston has a problem with impressive Fifers

Nathan Austin is in the thick of the action. Picture by Alan Murray.
Nathan Austin is in the thick of the action. Picture by Alan Murray.

When the first round draw of the Petrofac Training Cup paired East Fife with a trip to Falkirk, boss Gary Naysmith said it was the toughest possible for his side.

So, if this is as difficult as could get for the Fifers, then the boss has to be pleased with how well his men competed.

It took the much fancied hosts until the first minute of injury time to eventually edge themselves ahead of the League Two XI.

And it wasn’t as if Falkirk had been camped out in the East Fife half until that point, constantly bombarding Ryan Goodfellow’s goal.

There was no sense of justice finally prevailing when Falkirk eventually did take the lead.

That’s because it was a cup tie East Fife more than contributed to and had chances of their own to win.

To be fair that didn’t look like being the case when Peter Houston’s side took the lead inside just a couple of minutes.

A Craig Sibbald free-kick was swung into the box and Peter Grant arrived to head past Goodfellow.

At that point it was difficult not to fear the very worst for the visitors.

To their credit East Fife didn’t just steady the ship, they went on to turn the tide completely.

Kevin Smith has been a stand-out throughout pre-season and it was he who pulled things level.

A long ball forward caught Falkirk flat-footed.

Smith took full advantage by racing through the heart of the home side’s defence and thumping his effort past Danny Rogers.

The goal really deflated Houston’s men and sparked the Fifers into life.

They were level in the game and completely merited it.

The game became a lot more competitive than it had been to start with and, just a few minutes later, East Fife were only inches away from stretching ahead.

A free-kick was awarded to them on the edge of the box and Smith’s strike was almost perfect, the ball crashing off the underside of the bar and back out.

It was expected that Houston would have a few choice words with his side at the break and they’d come out with a renewed sense of purpose.

It didn’t happen, and again East Fife were unlucky through Fraser Mullen and Nathan Austin.

But with the game looking as if it was heading into extra time, Falkirk sickened the League Two men and saved their necks when Bob McHugh was on hand to fire them ahead in injury.

Further salt was rubbed into the wounds when John Baird added another to make the final score 3-1.