Squad lacking in self-belief

Steve Hislop with team mate Bobby Linn looking on. Albion ROvers ve East Fife, Feb 2012. Finished 1-1.
Steve Hislop with team mate Bobby Linn looking on. Albion ROvers ve East Fife, Feb 2012. Finished 1-1.

EAST Fife’s players need to start replicating the belief in themselves that is shared by the club’s management and supporters.

So said boss John Robertson after his men struggled on Saturday in Coatbridge, despite long spells in control against Albion Rovers.

Two dropped points from a 1-1 draw kept the Fifers chained around the mid-table berth from which they’re trying very hard to pull clear.

Had they won against Albion and against Stenhousemuir, they’d have been among the play-off pack, said Robertson, but, frustratingly, they’re still chasing.

But the manager still believes his players can do it – the problem, he feels, is they don’t always believe it themselves.

He said after a great start, the Fifers fell out of Saturday’s game towards the interval and, in the second half, the shoot-on-sight policy he ordered, to pressurise injured home keeper Derek Gaston, failed to materialise.

He said the Fifers should have been more professional and mentally stronger in coping.

“I’m not saying we deserved to win – but we could have and should have, if we’d been tough enough to hold on,” he said.

East Fife had shown in patches this season they were as good as anybody, said Robertson, with great showings against Premier League sides.

He believed in the players – as did assistant Gordon Durie and the fans – but the players needed that faith in themselves.

It’s hoped the self-assurance will be replenished for this Saturday’s visit to Bayview by Forfar Athletic, in the first of three home games within a week.

The rearranged fixture from Boxing Day against Dumbarton is on Tuesday, February 21, with Airdrie United the guests on the following Saturday.

Robertson said each of these matches would be taken in its own context but the overall situation was very important. Every team in the table, bar the leaders, was still capable of reaching the play-offs.

“Forfar are a team packed with experience and they’re having a hard season, but they are in the same position we were last year,” said Robertson. “We finished the season like a train and only just missed the play-offs.

“I believe whole-heartedly we can beat anyone, home and away, but we have to try to take advantage of the home games.”