Six goals but no thriller as Fife and Ayr share spoils

East Fife against Ayr Utd FC.
East Fife against Ayr Utd FC.

DESPITE the six goals and a remarkable comeback, this was possibly as poor a 3-3 game as you’re likely to see.

Bayview boss Billy Brown admitted afterwards that the performance was the worst he’s seen from his side in the few months he’s been at the club.

It was hard to disagree, as the Methil men started badly, losing early goals to Michael Moffat and Kyle McCausland, and looked like they’d be wiped out by half-time.

To their credit, though, the Fifers battled back and repeated their heroics of earlier in the season when they again overturned a two goal deficit to Ayr to take a 3-2 lead.

David White and a brace from Paul McManus did the damage this time.

But lightning wasn’t to strike twice, and Ayr left with a point thanks to a Cameron MacDonald effort.

East Fife just didn’t get started at all in the game and were penned back in their own half by the visitors.

Ayr took a deserved lead when Moffat was allowed time and space to run into the East Fife box before slotting past Callum Antell.

The Fifers almost pulled level when White got on the end of a loose ball but wasn’t able to direct his strike towards goal.

Sean Jamieson was given a start for the Fifers due to Collin Samuel’s injury.

The striker burst in on goal as the Fifers pressed for an equaliser but he wasn’t able to feed either McManus or Bobby Barr.

And they were made to pay for their missed chances when McAusland curled an unstoppable effort past Antell.

The Fifers hadn’t started well at all and it looked as if Ayr would only add to their lead.

But then came the comeback.

Firstly White stooped to head home a Jamieson flick on from a Robert Sloan corner.

Bobby Barr almost helped the Fifers back on to level terms but his pass for McManus was just too strong.

However the equaliser wasn’t long in coming.

McManus picked up a Scott McBride through ball and smashed his strike past Ally Brown.

East Fife have been missing McManus’s goals and he added another on the stroke of half-time.

Ayr were unable to clear a Jamieson shot and McManus was the first to react and fire home from close range.

It was a remarkable turn-around and completely out of the blue.

With the way the goals were flying in, East Fife knew they’d need another to be comfortable.

But they failed to really ever trouble Brown’s goal in the second half.

If another goal was to come in the game then it only ever looked like coming from Ayr.

Liam Buchanan tested Antell before MacDonald pulled Ayr level when he curled an excellent late strike past Antell.

They then had a late chance to win the game which Michael Donald missed.

East Fife - Antell; Durie, Johnstone, McCormack, White, Campbell, Barr, McManus, Jamieson, Sloan, McBride.

Subs - Gormley, Malcolm, Davidson, Lennie, Brown.

Ayr - Brown; McAuasland, McCann, MacDonald (Marrenghi 90), Brownlie, Sinclair, Hunter (Winters 21), Crawford, Moffat, Buchanan, Donald.

Subs - Shankland, McStay, Muir.

Referee - Don Robertson.

Attendance - 514

Starcheck ratings - McManus 3 points, Durie 2, Campbell 1.

Starcheck table – Bobby Barr 23, Michael Brown 13, David Muir 12, Paul Willis 11, Calum Antell 10, Paul McManus 10, Darren Smith 8, Scott McBride 7, Robert Sloan 7, Scott Durie 7, Jordon Forster 6, Collin Samuel 6, Jamie Pollock 5, Steven Campbell 4, Darren McCormack 3, Gareth Wardlaw 3, Andy Collier 2, Liam Gormley 2, Scott Smith 2, Ross Brown 1, Sean Jamieson 1, Craig Johnstone 1.

We got sloppy admits striker

PAUL McManus admits the Fifers got complacent during previous boss Gordon Durie’s absence from the club.

The Methil men slipped to the bottom of the league while Durie was away from Bayview on sick leave.

He was ultimately replaced by Billy Brown, and the new manager has sparked a revival, with the side now sitting just off the promotion play-off zone.

Speaking to the Mail, McManus said Brown had an almost immediate impact.

He said: “The gaffer has training at a high tempo, there’s a good spirit in the changing room.

“Since he’s come in it’s been different class, and we needed that.

“We lost Gordon at the start of the season and boys can get complacent.

“It’s not easy to come into training and you’ve got nobody there to look at the team for a Saturday. Everybody just felt it was easy to get in the team.

“But with the gaffer coming in he’s put a lot of hard work into us and we’re all working for each other.”

McManus netted twice during Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Ayr.

Despite coming back from being two goals down, the striker said he was unhappy with the performance.

He said: “We’re disappointed to go 3-2 up and let them back into it, but towards the end it looked like there was only one team going to win it.

“Our boys lost their shape, we looked tired and let things open up.

“We were hitting the balls into the channels, but you need to get it down when you’re 3-2 up and try to keep your shape, but that never happened.”

Now in his third spell at the club, McManus has had to endure a difficult time this season, with his campaign blighted by injury.

“I got my injury last season at Brechin and it kept me out of the last five games of the season,” he said.

“It was one of those injuries when I couldn’t find out what was wrong with it.

“I went for a scan and luckily enough the physio here spotted what was wrong with it and I feel great now.

“I’ve played with the injury since the start of the season, I was disappointed and lost all my confidence, but I’ve worked with the gaffer and the physios to try and get my form back from last season.

“I got thrown in at the deep end a bit two weeks ago and it was a bit of a shock to the system, but the gaffer said he had faith in me to go and do the job.

“But I’m a fit lad and can be out for a few weeks but I get it back very quickly and I’m taking it game by game.

“It was great to get the two goals to add to the one at Alloa, but the main thing is to get the three points.

“We’re really disappointed and the gaffer is disappointed as well - it’s not good enough.

“That was a massive game to go one point behind Forfar and we never really took it.

“We need wins in this league, especially if you’re going for the play-off.”

“Ayr are a good passing team; we were lucky to come away 3-2 earlier in the season.

“They like to get on the ball and get their wide men on the ball and put dangerous balls in to the box and big Moffat is a handful as well up-front.

“We’ve got wee Liam as well, he’s champing at the bit to get in.

“I said to big Sean that it’s time to take your chance and I thought he did really well.

“For his size he should be up there winning headers and the gaffer said to him that he won nearly every header he went up for.

“There’s good competition, we’ve got a lot of good players here.

“Big Samuel is a goal scorer, myself and Sean has scored goals with the juniors so whoever gets the start has to take it.”