Point taken as dreams of play-off slot vanish

Airdrie Utd v East Fife May 7 2011
Airdrie Utd v East Fife May 7 2011

DESPITE taking the lead twice, East Fife could not get a first-ever win at Airdrie’s Shyberry Stadium.

Both times the hosts came back and the second late goal meant both teams had to settle for a point.

Brechin City’s home win over Ayr United also meant that, even if the Fifers had won, they were not going to get a play-off spot.

However, the Fifers did finish the season on an eight-game unbeaten run and a respectable fifth spot in the division - a position that looked very unlikely a couple of months ago.

With the Fifers forced on to the back foot early on, Michael Brown kept his goal intact when he made an excellent save from Mackay-Steven. Soon after, he was called into action again, this time saviong from a Gemmill effort.

Dylan McGowan and John Ovenstone did well in the heart of the visitors’ defence as Airdrie had most of the possession.

A chance for the Fifers saw Matthew Park go past a couple of defenders but his shot did not trouble the home keeper. Another Fife attack saw Wallace blast over, after good built-up play involving Scott Durie and Muir.

East Fife took the lead after 33 minutes when Muir finished coolly from just inside the area after a Hislop cross. The captain had dispossessed Stallard and got the ball into the danger area to provide the chance.

United took up the challenge and Brown had to make saves from Sally and Stevenson.

With around five minutes of the half remaining, equality was restored when McCord scored for the home side. A Devlin pass found him and he flighted the ball out of Brown’s reach for the equaliser.

The second half saw United again pushing forward in an effort to take the lead but they got little change from the Fife defence.

And it was the Fifers who, not long after the hour mark, recaptured the advantage. Hislop got his sixth of the season when he forced home a Muir cross.

It certainly didn’t look as if Airdrie had nothing to play for, as they were immediately on the attack, looking to even things up.

Brown had several good saves and a couple of exceptional ones before the hosts got what they deserved.

With seven minutes remaining, Sally headed home the leveller after Brown had initially saved from Stevenson.

The goal not only denied the Fifers a win but meant they’d not beaten United this season in four attempts.

Airdrie United - Szpilcynski, Bain, Goodall, Devlin, Owens (Keast 30), Stevenson, McCord, Mackay-Steven (Lovering 85), Gemmell (Blockley 75), Sally. Subs (not used) Smith, Ridgers.

East Fife - Brown, Durie, Park, Ovenstone, McGowan, Muir (Fagan 67), Linn, McCulloch, Hislop (Smart 88), Young, Wallace. Subs (not used) Campbell, Devlin, Lyness.

Referee - M. Northcroft.

Attendance - 861.

Starcheck - Muir 3 points, Hislop 2, Park 1.

Final Starcheck table - Bobby Linn 43, Michael Brown 33, Craig Johnstone 26, Kurtis Byrne 16, John Ovenstone 15, Ryan Wallace 14, Stevie Campbell 13, David Muir 10, Matthew Park 10, Steve Hislop 9, Lloyd Young 9, Scott Durie 8, Robert Sloan 7, Dylan McGowan 5, Stewart Murdoch 5, Jonathan Smart 4, Paul Tansey 3, Stevie Crawford 2, Marc McCulloch 2.