Naysmith happy to change a winning East Fife team

Craig Sutherland wraps up East Fife's 5-0 win at the weekend shortly after coming off the bench. Pic: G McLuskie
Craig Sutherland wraps up East Fife's 5-0 win at the weekend shortly after coming off the bench. Pic: G McLuskie

East Fife were outstanding at the weekend as they swept aside Berwick 5-0 – but Gary Naysmith says nobody is assured of keeping their place.

The gaffer has an interesting philosophy when it comes to his team selections, revealing that each game and opposition is judged on its own merits rather than simply sticking with a winning side.

It’s a refreshing attitude from a manager not content to just go along with the footballing cliché that a victory sees a player ‘keep hold of the jersey’.

Instead, Naysmith says, it makes more sense to pick a team based on how it can defend and attack better against each opponent.

The boss told the East Fife Mail: “I’ve already said to the players that I’ll make changes to a winning team throughout the season.

“I don’t believe that, if you win, then you automatically keep the jersey.

“It’s horses for courses in this league and I have confidence in the entire squad of players, so I’m not worried about changing the team.”

The side was a credit to itself at the weekend and it managed to overcome a Berwick team it’s had difficulties with in the past.

From the very first whistle, East Fife were at it and the energy and willingness to attack and bomb forward was great entertainment.

It was a pity, then, the game was watched by just over 500 fans but, if the standard of performance remains as high, then surely local football fans will want a taste and start flocking into Bayview.

The manager watched the game back on Monday morning and was delighted with pretty much everything he saw.

“The total performance was really pleasing,” he said.

“I went on record and I meant it when I said we could have hit double figures.

“At four or five-nil, we played a great move switching the ball from the left to the right and Craig Sutherland maybe should have scored.

“It’s all things that we worked on in training and it’s great when it comes to fruition like that.”

While all the attention focused after the game on the forward play and quality of goals scored, the manager reserved special praise for on-loan centre half Jason Kerr.

The 18-year-old made his first start in the black and gold, replacing Declan O’Kane.

“He did great,” said the boss.

“We have him here from St Johnstone and there’s no pressure to play him.

“They just want him to get the experience of travelling and things like that but, at the same time, told me they were confident that, after three or four weeks, he’d have forced his way into the team.

“Blair Henderson is a player we’ve had trouble with but Jason and Jonathan Page kept him really quiet.”

The Fifers will look to keep up their momentum when they host Elgin City on Saturday.

Jim Weir’s men have made a lighting start to the season, beating Arbroath and East Stirlinghire 3-0 and 4-0 respectively, while they also knocked Championship side Alloa out of the Petrofac Cup in midweek.

“Jim has done a really good job,” admitted Naysmith.

“He’s recruited three players from St Johnstone and they’ve added to some quality players they already had there.

“I said at the start of the season I thought they’d be in the play-offs, so I’m not surprised to see them make the start they have. We’ll need a good performance.”