Naysmith proud of his side after 2-0 Gers defeat

Gary Naysmith
Gary Naysmith

Gary Naysmith hailed the spirit of his young players after they more than held their own against Championship title hopefuls Rangers at Bayview.

Ultimately it was the Gers who progressed to the Petrofac Training Cup semi-final thanks to goals from Jon Daly and Ian Black.

But the young Fifers, many of whom went into the game playing out of position due to an increasing injury list at Bayview, came out with great credit.

Circumstances, including the whole left side of the squad being injured, meant Naysmith had to play an unfamiliar 3-4-3 formation against Ally McCoist’s side.

The Bayview boss revealed after the game that his side had barely had time to work on their new shape, and spent the weekend texting his players to ask if they had any concerns about how it would work.

But his players didn’t just make it work, they embraced it - the injury ravaged side refusing to feel sorry for itself.

True, the Fifers didn’t really trouble Steve Simonsen in the Rangers goal a great deal, but it was tough luck on the battling side when Daly bundled home a scrappy goal from a couple of yards all the same.

Allan Walker and Jon McShane both had chances for the Fifers, but it was largely the visitors who did most of the attacking and grabbed a second goal when Ian Black rifled home a free-kick.

The scoreline only told half the story, and the Fife fans have a great deal to feel positive about - providing the team can now take that level of performance into their league campaign.

It’s barely been a couple of seasons since David Templeton tormented the Fife defence in a Hearts shirt during a pre-season friendly - Tynecastle legends John Robertson, the then Fife boss, and Gary Locke purring over his performance that afternoon.

Sadly the left winger looked a shadow of the starlet he was at that point last night and Ross Brown, presumably, has now released him from his back pocket.

Stevie Campbell and Ewan Moyes were rocks in the centre of the park, giving Daly and strike partner Nicky Clark little change - a pattern of performance that continued when Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd were introduced to the Gers attack from the bench.

Lewis Barr had arguably his best game in an East Fife shirt, impressing with his willingness to not only get on the ball, but keep it and use it well rather than panic when being closed down.

Boss Naysmith said: “We limited them to few chances.

“I’m very encouraged by the players’ discipline and fitness levels against a full-time side.

“It wasn’t until maybe the 85th minute when a few players looked dead on their feet.

“I brought Daryl Falconer on late on with an eye to Saturday and he did well; you forget Jamie Beaton is only 19 and he did well and that was Ross Brown’s best game since he came back from injury - he was different class.

“I also think that Lewis Barr will end up being a centre half, he has an eagerness and a hunger that you can’t put into a player - he’d run through a brick wall for you.

“It just shows that, when called upon, they can produce the goods.

“We got beat at the end of the day, though, but if you’re going to get beat that’s the way to get beat.

“It was a spirited performance against a team who’ll at least make the play-offs.

“We gave a very good account of ourselves and the players must take confidence from it.

“If Ross Brown can play like that against David Templeton he can play like that against any player in our league.”