Squad rotation pays off for Fifers

Gary Naysmith cuts out Tony Ralston's cross.
Gary Naysmith cuts out Tony Ralston's cross.

Gary Naysmith went on record more than once in the past few weeks stating he’d have no qualms about changing a winning side.

The footballing cliché about ‘players holding the jersey’ if they win is an irrelevance to the Bayview boss who believes more in using the strength of his full squad.

True to his word, the manager has tinkered with his team selections.

And had the Fifers followed up their win against Elgin with a poor performance against Motherwell and defeat at Queen’s Park, eyebrows may have been raised.

As it turns out, the gaffer has been vindicated in his decision to get through a period of three games in seven days by using his full squad.

Granted the side was beaten on Tuesday night, but only after Premiership Motherwell were pushed to the very limits and squeezed past the Fifers in extra time.

The Bayview manager does have a small squad this season and the four changes made at the weekend were probably as much as he could except for Craig Sutherland coming in for the on-fire Nathan Austin.

Naysmith, Fraser Mullen, Jason Kerr and Craig Murray were all brought in to the starting XI.

Kevin Smith, one of those who completed the full 120 minutes on Tuesday, was replaced just after the hour mark by the energetic Pat Slattery as the Fifers implemented their game plan to perfection.

The first 20 minutes weren’t the greatest the grand old national stadium has witnessed.

The game eventually began to spark into life and it was Naysmith’s men who took the initiative.

Nathan Austin was afforded a sight of Willie Muir’s goal, but couldn’t get a clean connection on his strike.

Muir palmed the shot away but only as far as the in-coming Craig Murray who lashed the ball home from eight yards.

The goal still didn’t really ignite what was a pretty cagey opening 45.

The second half was better as Queen’s came out and tried to haul level.

While Austin has been winning plaudits for his performances up front this term, the unsung heroes at the back simply proved too tough and well drilled for Queen’s to break down.

But the Fifers needed some breathing space and it duly arrived from the boot of, guess who...

Naysmith and chairman Jim Stevenson will be praying the transfer deadline comes and goes without Austin’s head being turned from elsewhere.

But any watching scout in the stand will again have been impressed with the striker as he wrapped up the victory when he worked room for himself and beat Muir.