Page turns defeat into a vital point for East Fife

A scramble on the Arbroath goal line. Pic: Kenny Mackay
A scramble on the Arbroath goal line. Pic: Kenny Mackay

Arbroath 1 East Fife 1

An exciting finish saw East Fife get a late equaliser in a game that was pretty evenly contested with not too many chances for either side.

Despite taking a point from the league leaders on their own patch, the Fifers fell down to eighth in the league table.

East Fife started the game better, but it was Arbroath who went in one up through a flukey goal, with neither ’keeper having been really troubled.

The second half again saw little action for the ’keepers in the windy conditions, but the Fifers did manage to get an equaliser just as things appeared to be totally going against them.

The Fifers had new signing Sean Dickson on the bench with Gary Naysmith and Johnathan Page returning to the starting line up and again not a full compliment of subs.

It was the Fifers’ first game in three weeks and they had only played one since losing to Arbroath heavily at home at the end of last year.

On a heavy and bumpy pitch, the visitors were first to threaten when a move up the left saw Gary Naysmith’s pass find Allan Walker.

His well struck effort went across the face of the goal narrowly missing the right-hand post.

Walker was booked early on for what the referee saw as an infringement as the home ’keeper dropped the ball.

Former East Fife favourite Bobby Linn’s corner gave the home side their first opportunity but no one could connect in the box.

The home side went close soon after when Hunter shot over.

Arbroath’s Murray got the chance to run at the Fife defence as they backed off and his effort beat Millar but came back off the bar, as Arbroath had the upper hand.

At the other end a Kevin Smith pass had looked good for Walker, but he missed the target.

Soon after the same player went closer following an opening from a Naysmith pass.

Walker again featured when a bad kick out by McCallum fell for him in the middle of the park but, as the ’keeper scrambled back to his goal, Walker’s sailed wide.

Arbroath fortuitously took the lead towards the end of the half, when Liam Smith rolled the ball back to Millar.

As the ’keeper came out to clear, he miskicked and the ball trundled towards the goal. Despite his efforts, Murray managed to get there first and toe poked home the opener.

As the half came to an end, the ’keeper made amends when he made a couple of saves as the home side looked for a second.

The second period opened again well for the visitors and former Arbroath man Alan Cook had an early chance, but - maybe the pitch again - he miskicked.

With 10 minutes of the half gone, the Fifers brought on debutant Sean Dickson to replace McAleer.

A good spell for the home side was Millar’s save from Linn and McManus thrashed over the bar.

Nathan Austin, who had replaced Cook, was just wide from the edge of the area, as Fifers tried to take advantage of the wind at their backs.

East Fife used their last sub when Steve Smith came on to replace the manager with 10 minutes left.

Eventually it looked as if the Fifers had got the equaliser when an Austin header seemed to have beaten the ’keeper, but was cleared, and then scrambled clear again as Page returned it, but despite the pleas there was no goal given.

It seemed as if it was not going to be their day but with five minutes remaining Page again got an effort on target following a corner and after a real melee in the danger area also involving Walker and Extabeguren the ball was cleared, but on this occasion the officials agreed that it had crossed the line.

As time ran out, Walker had the chance of a late winner but McCallum did well to save the effort.

Arbroath’s last throw of the dice saw them put on two substitutes, but the game finished 1-1, leaving East Fife lying eighth - only three points off the bottom.

Arbroath: McCallum, Rowan, Lindsay, McGeever, Gordon, Whatley, Linn, Hunter, McManus (Buchan 87), Murray (Grant 87), Stewart.

Subs not used: Trialist, Smith, Lowdon, Little, Wilson.

East Fife: Millar, L. Smith, Page, Extabeguren, Naysmith (S. Smith 80), McAleer (Dickson 55), S. Campbell, Walker, Brown, K. Smith, Cook (Austin 65).

Subs not used: Barr, Fleming.

Referee: S. Kirkland.

Attendance: 695.