East Fife 0-2 Falkirk

There’s no doubt Stevie Crawford will be disappointed to lose this game, but there was no way he could be disappointed with the attitude of his side.

By Scott Inglis
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 10:24 pm
Ryan Blair looks to win the ball back from former Fife striker Anton Dowds. Pic by Kenny Mackay
Ryan Blair looks to win the ball back from former Fife striker Anton Dowds. Pic by Kenny Mackay

East Fife were forced to play the bulk of the match with 10 men following goalkeeper Jude Smith’s sending off with just 16 minutes played.

Against a decent full-time side like Falkirk, it stacked the odds against the Methil men.

But despite their lowly position at the foot of League One, there was absolutely no sense of the squad feeling sorry for themselves.

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Instead they rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in, just what the Fife fans wanted to see on the back of last week’s 2-0 loss at Dumbarton which severely dented the club’s survival hopes.

Ahead of the game there was a minute of applause as East Fife remembered vice-chairman Dave Marshall.

When the match kicked off, both sides failed to really ask too many questions of the other.

The game cracked into life on 16 minutes, though, when Smith raced off his line to gather a short pass back but was caught handling the ball outside his box.

Ref Barry Cook ordered him off with skipper Kevin Smith sacrificed to make way for sub keeper Scott Gallacher.

Fife fans may have feared the worst but instead were left impressed by their side’s resilience.

Falkirk may have seen plenty of the ball but they couldn’t break down a well organised East Fife side.

Chris Higgins and Aaron Steele were magnificent at the back as they frustrated the Bairns.

At the other end, Ryan Blair came the closest to opening the scoring for the home side.

It was honours even at the interval and Falkirk manager Martin Rennie had clearly seen enough.

He swapped Aidan Keena for Jaze Kabia and the on-loan Livingston winger would prove to be the difference between the two sides.

He was only on the park for seven minutes when he glanced home a Craig McGuffie cross.

But again East Fife refused to buckle and were unlucky not to be level when Scott Mercer tried his luck from close range.

The Methil men continued to press and, in the closing stages of the game, pushed defender Steele into attack in a bid to pull level.

It was a risk and left gaps at the back – gaps Falkirk exposed.

Kabia notched his second of the game in the closing seconds of the match.

East Fife remain at home for their next two games against Peterhead and Clyde.

It’s a winnable six points and boss Crawford said he’d love the same positive atmosphere inside Bayview for these matches.

He said: “The crowd got behind the boys and their energy came on to the players as well.

“They played their part.

“If we can stay together and keep believing then we’ll turn it.

“I know the fans are hurting but a performance like today shows that we have a chance.

“I remain positive.

“It’s hard to stomach defeats but today could be the turning point for us.

“We went a man down, we’re in a bad bit of form and struggling to win a game of football but there was a belief and energy within the group.

“It was typified with my captain who was the one who suffered when we went down to 10 men.

“The way he came off that park shows why Kevin Smith has had a career in the game and what the club means to him.

“I wouldn’t have liked to come off as early in the game but he came off with dignity and respect.

“I can’t thank him enough because coming off the park in that manner means a lot to me because it shows the players left on the park to do their business properly.

“I need to rely on Kevin’s experience between now and the end of the season.”