KINGDOM rivals East Fife and Raith Rovers kicked off the Gilvenbank Hotel Football Festival on Saturday afternoon - a tournament which also saw Dundee and Southend United invited to Bayview.
John McGlynn’s Kirkcaldy men pushed for promotion to the SPL last season but their failure to take the step up has resulted in cuts to the playing staff.
However, David McGurn, Grant Murray, Iain Davidson, Iain Williamson and Allan Walker remained from the side which pushed Dunfermline to the latter stages of the season.
East Fife’s line-up was similar to that which ended last season, with only Mark Ridgers, Andrew Cook, David White and Robert Ogleby new to the set-up.
The game started at a decent pace with the Fifers attacking from the off.
Ogleby and Ryan Wallace seem to be carving out a decent partnership up front and the duo almost combined after just a couple of minutes to give East Fife the lead.
Wallace found space down the wing and flashed a cross across goal which on-loan Hearts man Ogleby was just a foot away from connecting with.
Steven Campbell was unlucky just a minute later when his close range header had to be tipped on to the crossbar by Rovers ‘keeper David McGurn.
At the other end, Iain Williamson’s strike from distance was well held by eventual player of the tournament, East Fife ‘keeper Mark Ridgers.
McGlynn’s men should have taken the lead on the 20 minute mark when a poor clearance from Ridgers fell kindly at the feet of Brian Graham.
The Rovers man had time to compose himself in the box, but with the whole goal at his mercy, he somehow screwed the ball past the post, much to the dismay of the Raith faithful and to the enjoyment of their Methil rivals.
The pace of the game began to slip as half time approached, with only a Wallace strike and a Matthew Park header from close range of any note.
In the second period, the lively Williamson again caused trouble for the Fife defence when he found space to fire in a shot which he ended up dragging wide.
With another game scheduled for just 24 hours later, both sides stuck with their starting line-ups long into the game, so the flow wasn’t disrupted by substitutions, as it typically can be during friendly clashes.
Grant Murray’s header fired across goal with 20 minutes left before Fifers’ sub David White posed problems at the other end.
The big defender’s header was turned over the bar by McGurn before, just a few minutes later, White again made a nuisance of himself, going close with another headed effort.
With just a couple of minutes left on the clock, East Fife should have wrapped up the victory when Wallace found himself free inside the Raith Rovers box.
The striker had all the time in the world to pick his spot but, like Graham before him, somehow conspired to miss when it seemed easier to score.
Referee Craig Charleston called a halt to proceedings, meaning the clash would be settled from the penalty spot.
Both sides netted their first spot kicks before Wallace missed his to give Raith the lead.
The side from Kirkcaldy looked confident from the spot and appeared to be on their way to the victory when Laurie Ellis had the chance to make it five out of five.
However, the big defender’s effort was as high, wide and handsome as they come, giving East Fife a lifeline.
The penalties from both sides in sudden death were impressive, and just when it looked as if the goalkeepers themselves would be called on to take one, up stepped Rovers trialist Danny Thomson.
The youngster, who appeared as a second half substitute, missed his kick, meaning the Methil side wrapped up the win.
SATURDAY’S winners, East Fife and Dundee, met 24 hours later to see who would be crowned the festival’s champions.
Both managers used the game to run the rule over some new faces, with John Robertson taking a look at Jordan Louden, Scott Robertson, Samir and Kevin McKinlay.
McKinlay will have done his chances of a deal no harm, as it was his first half-strike which handed East Fife the victory.
Dundee gaffer Barry Smith picked himself to start in central midfield and he was the first to try his luck, sending a long-range strike towards the Fife goal which Ridgers held.
Samir, believed to be in the country on trial from France, looked lively up front and caused a nuisance of himself within the Dundee backline.
He tried his luck as the first half went on but his strike never looked like troubling John Gibson in the Dundee nets.
The deadlock was broken when McKinlay burst in on the Dundee goal and managed to prod his strike beyond Gibson.
The game opened up in the second period as East Fife hunted for the killer second and Dundee tried to haul themselves back into the game.
Another new face, Robertson, was offered a glorious chance to put the game almost beyond Dundee and should have done better from a few yards out with his strike, which never really troubled the Dundee ‘keeper.
Robert Ogleby was the next to be offered an opportunity to net when some good work from Lloyd Young allowed the forward to race in on Gibson’s goal.
As the ‘keeper advanced Ogleby made his mind up to chance the lob, which he ended up putting too much on and could only watch as it sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
Jamie Reid could have snatched a leveller as the clock ticked down when he got on the end of a cross from one of his side’s trialists.
However, the midfielder was unable to beat Ridgers, with team mate Kyle Benedictus also out of luck late on.
Following the Fifers’ presentation, Methil boss John Robertson said: “The first thing we wanted to do with this competition was make sure we had a good level of opposition.
“Barry Smith and John McGlynn were right up for it, as were Southend.
“It’s been something a little bit different and there really wasn’t that much between all four of the sides.
“We had four really good games and we were maybe a wee bit fortunate to get through after the penalty shoot-out.
“The Dundee and Southend game was also a cracker and the final was the best game.”
East Fife v Raith Rovers
East Fife - Ridgers, Cook, Park, Ovenstone, Campbell (White 70), Muir, Linn, Smith (Sloan 80), Ogleby, Wallace, Johnstone (Young 73).
Subs - Durie, Collier.
Raith Rovers - McGurn; Donaldson, Dyer, Murray, Ellis, Davidson, Williamson, Walker, Reynolds (Walls 79), Graham (Trialist), Hamill.
East Fife v Dundee
East Fife - Ridgers, Durie, Louden, Ovenstone (Muir 64), White, Robertson, Young, Sloan (Linn 66), Ogleby, Samir (Park 66), McKinlay.
Subs - Smith, Johnstone, Collier.
Dundee - Gibson, Benedictus, Irvine (McKeown 62), O’Donnell, Trialist, Weston (Trialist 62), Trialist, Smith, McIntosh (Hyde 45), Bayne, Reid.
Subs - Milne, Trialist, Douglas.
Referee - Brian Colvin.