ON a day when other results may have grabbed the headlines, East Fife’s thrashing by Third Division Elgin City emphasised the poor start to the season that has left the Methil team second bottom of the league and out of all three cups in the very early stages.
The game would prove to be Gordon Durie’s last as East Fife manager, with the absent boss stepping aside because of health problems.
Two goals midway through the first half put the home side on the road to glory and left the Fifers with a struggle.
Three more in the second period, during a 16-minute spell, meant there was no way back for the Fifers in their worst ever display at Elgin’s Borough Briggs.
It all started off well enough for the Methil side, who were struggling to name 16 players for the tie.
Two Hibs loanees, Scott Smith and Jordon Forster, were unavailable, as well as Livingston’s Bobby Barr and Dunfermline’s Paul Willis, through fears by their parent clubs that the players would be cup-tied.
On the bench were youngsters Aiden Gordon, Ross Brewster and coach Bob Malcolm.
David White was recalled from his loan with Bo’ness as the Fifers pulled a team together.
The Methil side took the game to their hosts and an early chance for the recalled Scott McBride saw Gibson in the home goal hold comfortably.
The visitors almost took the lead when a Paul McManus effort crashed off the bar, following a good build-up involving Robert Sloan and Jamie Pollock.
Soon after, another McManus effort was on target but hardly troubled the home keeper.
After the opening quarter, the home side got more into the game and began to dominate, with the Fifers unable to take advantage of their decent start.
Calum Antell became the busier ‘keeper as he saved from Gunn and, soon after, from Nicolson.
Just before the half-hour mark, the home side took the lead, rather fortuitously, against the run of play.
A shot from Beveridge looked to be of little danger, but the unmarked Leslie managed to direct the ball home for the opener, with the suspicion of a deflection off Scott Durie.
Elgin had their tails up after taking the lead and they increased their advantage five minutes later, when Gunn lost his marker to get on to a Cameron pass and slotted the second goal home.
Having had the bulk of the early possession, the visitors looked a beaten side as they tried to keep the hosts from increasing their lead and made it to half-time with a two-goal deficit.
The Fifers tried to re-establish themselves at the start of the second half, but could not make any impression.
The game was over as a contest in 57 minutes when the recalled David White was adjudged to have brought down Cameron in the penalty area.
From the spot-kick Moore made it 3-0.
The big East Fife defender was also booked for his troubles.
Sean Jamieson was introduced in place of Jamie Pollock, but had little chance to get involved and the fourth goal came 10 minutes later when poor defending saw Nicolson guide in a Moore pass.
Again, poor marking proving very costly for the out-of-sorts visitors.
With 20 minutes left, the visitors brought on youngster Aiden Gordon to replace Robert Sloan.
The third goal inside a quarter of an hour came when Harkins, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of moments, beat a couple of defenders and scored the home side’s fifth.
The Fifers eventually managed to get on the scoresheet when David Muir got what proved to be a mere consolation goal, with a header from a Craig Johnstone cross with 12 minutes left.
Elgin City – Gibson, Beveridge, McMullen, Crighton, Duff, Cameron, Gunn (Wyness 74), O’Donoghue, Leslie (Miller 74), Nicolson (Harkins 70), Moore. Subs (not used) McLean, Black.
East Fife – Antell, Durie, Sloan (Gordon 69), Campbell, White, D. Smith, Johnstone, Muir, McManus, Pollock (Jamieson 57), McBride. Subs (not used) Malcolm, Brewster, Brown.
Referee – K. Graham.
Starcheck ratings – McManus 3 points, Muir 2, Johnstone 1.
Starcheck table – Michael Brown 13, David Muir 11, Bobby Barr 7, Robert Sloan 7, Darren Smith 7, Calum Antell 5, Paul McManus 5, Scott McBride 4, Paul Willis 4, Darren McCormack 3, Jamie Pollock 3, Collin Samuel 3, Gareth Wardlaw 3, Andy Collier 2, Scott Durie 2, Scott Smith 2, Ross Brown 1, Steven Campbell 1, Craig Johnstone 1.