Ross County 2-1 East Fife

East Fife boss Darren Young
East Fife boss Darren Young

East Fife's run to the Irn-Bru Cup semi-finals has been nothing if not dramatic - and this match was a fitting way for it to end.

It's been a campaign which has saw some excellent performances in turfing out Championship sides Queen of the South and Partick Thistle, before the now well documented farce with Bohemians.

It all led to a semi final appearance against the Staggies, but the Fifers found the Championship leaders a bridge too far.

Typically, though, Darren Young's side made a massive first of it and, in front of the television cameras, put on a performance worthy of both their season so far and this cup run.

The Fifers were aiming to reach their first national cup final since 1953 but faced a tough task if they were to get there.

Semi finals can sometimes fail to ignite, but from kick off both sides had excellent chances to open the scoring.

For the hosts Harry Paton was a threat down the right wing, his early cross cut out by Craig Watson.

The Methil men weren't there to make up the numbers, and were unlucky not to grab the game's first goal themselves when Scott Linton dragged a decent effort inches wide.

Ross County looked really neat in possession and a class apart from the two other Championship sides the Fifers have already beaten in this competition.

It wasn't a great surprise that it was they who opened the scoring - but the manner the goal was conceded will frustrate the Fifers.

Daniel Armstrong swung a corner into the box which managed to sneak its way into the bottom corner of the net.

County had deserved their lead, and looked to have gone a long way to putting the game to bed when Declan McManus netted from close range.

To their credit East Fife dusted themselves down and quickly went in pursuit of what would be a crucial third goal in the game.

They got it almost straight away, Dowds heading home a Watson delivery.

It was a goal which completely changed the complexion of the game for the start of the second half.

An experienced County side clearly knew exactly that, and started the second half aiming to restore their two goal cushion.

Only a point blank stop from the outstanding Long stopped McManus from doing that barely a couple of minutes into the second 45.

That was the only real chance of note County had for the majority of the second half as East Fife dominated.

The introduction of Kevin Smith from the bench gave the Fifers a huge boost and within moments of entering the park he had a strong penalty claim snubbed by ref Alan Newlands.

Smith was again in the thick of the action with just quarter of an hour to go when he met a Linton cross only to head straight at Ross Munro.

County should have wrapped up the tie with just a few minutes left when East Fife gave possession away deep inside the Staggies half.

They countered well and Mullin raced in on goal, only to have his shot blocked by Long.

The Fifers pushed and pushed in the closing minutes but it wasn't to be, and the cup run was over.

Boss Darren Young said: “I’m frustrated because it’s so close but so far.

“It was a great performance and it says a lot to me about the players that they’re sitting in there disappointed that they’ve played a full-time, Championship team and have been beaten.

“They’re gutted."