There’s something East Fife just love about the turn of a New Year.
12 months ago the Methil side shrugged off what had been an indifferent start to the 2014/15 season by stringing a fine run of results together after the festive break.
It was a run which saw them surge from the bottom end of the table into the promotion play-off zone where they stayed until the season ended.
This year, although the league position at the end of December wasn’t as grim, the Fifers knew that some teams were beginning to stretch ahead at the top of the table.
Just like they did the year before, the side knuckled down and put a sequence of results together which saw them muscle their way back into contention.
The most recent of those results came at Ochilview, where a well earned 3-1 win saw East Fife keep a grip on third place and record their third win in a row.
Boss Gary Naysmith said: “I thought we were comfortable in the first half but credit to East Stirling, for 20 minutes in the second, without causing us too much trouble, they were taking control of the game.
“Ross Fisher began to pick up a lot of the second balls so we changed it to go a bit more defensive and moved from a 4-4-2 to 4-4-1-1 and moved Kyle Wilkie in.
“Nearly instantly Kyle stopped them playing and got into pockets for us.
“From that point until the end of the game we took control of the game.”
The manager praised the impact of Wilkie on the game.
“The winger put in arguably his finest performance in an East Fife shirt, giving his Shire markers a torrid time all game.
The former Berwick man worked his way across the front line and was at the heart of everything East Fife created.
“He’s been different class for us,” said the boss.
“He has the top assists and is up to seven or eight goals as well.
“In recent weeks we’ve moved him out to the left and it hasn’t affected him.
“If anything he’s contributed goals and assists more.
“I’m really happy with him.”
But the game didn’t start according to plan for East Fife as Shire grabbed an opener on the eight minute mark.
Kris Faulds delivered a floating free-kick which in trying to clear boss Naysmith deflected past his own ‘keeper.
But the weren’t behind for long.
Wilkie left his marker for dead on the line before racing into the box.
The Shire defence parted and Wilkie needed no second invitation, curling a stunning effort into the bottom corner.
The Fifers had clearly brushed off their early shock and went on to dominate play.
They took a deserved lead half way through the first half.
Wilkie was proving too much to handle for the home side and as he steadied himself to shoot from eight yards, was brought down by Aron Lynas.
Nathan Austin took the penalty, only to see it blocked by Barnard.
But the Fife top scorer was first to react, netting at the second time of asking.
The second half totally failed to really sparkle as the home side tried to make a fist of things, only to find the Fifers a tough nut to crack.
Scott Mercer went close for Naysmith’s side with an effort Barnard saved with his knee.
But the win was wrapped up when on-loan debutant Ali Coote finished well.
It ensured a vital three points returned to Bayview with an East Fife side finding form at just the right time.