Play offs haunt the Fifers again

Jonathan Page is mobbed after his late equaliser.
Jonathan Page is mobbed after his late equaliser.

For the second season in a row East Fife were left heartbroken by the play-offs.

Last term the Fifers were relegated to League Two through the end of season decider and on Saturday their hopes of going back up through them were dashed by Stenny.

The better team may have lost at the weekend but, sadly, that’s of little consequence now as Gary Naysmith’s side were consigned to another season in the nation’s bottom division.

Over the two legs the Fifers couldn’t be accused of not giving it a go and on chances created had by far the better of the two legs.

But it’s putting the ball in the back of the net that counts and East Fife weren’t able to turn their opportunities into goals.

In the first leg on Wednesday Ross Brown put his side ahead after just a couple of minutes.

Frustratingly on Saturday it was the Fifers who were caught napping early on as Ciaran Summers’ cross was turned in at the back post by Kieran Millar before most fans had taken their seats.

It was a missed opportunity to put pressure on a side who had finished their league season in second bottom spot.

With confidence low, an early East Fife goal, or a sustained period of pressure in the Stenny half, may have seen the home side crack under the expectation of completing the job at their own ground.

But credit still has to go to the Fifers for how they reacted to the early set-back.

Naysmith’s side immediately went on the front foot and looked to get themselves level.

Nathan Austin worked room for himself in the touchline and fired in a shot which stung Greg Fleming’s palms.

Allan Walker, Derek Riordan, Jonathan Page and Sean Dickson all had genuine chances which, on another day, could have seen the visitors home and hosed.

It looked like being one of those days but, just as the Fife support was ready to hang up their gold and black scarves for another season, they grabbed a dramatic late leveller when Walker’s deep cross was headed over the line by Page.

The goal forced the game into extra-time - but it was then the Fifers really struggled.

And it was totally understandable as the visting bench had introduced all attacking threats onto the park in the search of an equaliser.

This meant a shortage of defensive cover for the remaining 30 minutes.

The side was unable to reorganise itself again and Jamie McCormack and Craig Sutherland wrapped up a 3-1 win.