East Fife 1-3 Falkirk

East Fife will play League Two football next season after their relegation was confirmed at Bayview on Saturday afternoon.

By Scott Inglis
Saturday, 16th April 2022, 10:19 pm
East Fife's Stewart Murdoch tussles with Callumn Morrison. Pic by Alan Murray

The Fifers have been treading water in the nation’s third tier for the past few weeks as an upturn in results towards the end of the season saw them fight impressively for their lives.

But sadly there was just too much to do and a 3-1 loss to Falkirk saw the trapdoor open.

There may have been an air of acceptance of the club’s fate in some quarters pre-match but that certainly didn’t manifest itself in the players’ performances.

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Manager Stevie Crawford often speaks of the ‘demands’ he puts on the squad and there’s little doubt he would have demanded one last big performance.

He got that but simply found his side up against a Falkirk team who were ruthless in front of goal.

The Fifers twice went close in the opening stages through Kyle Connell who was denied by a couple of excellent Robbie Mutch saves.

The complexion of the game could have been so much different before the Bairns took the lead through Callumn Morrison.

If there is one positive to take from this season it’s the emergence of several young players who will no doubt shine in League Two next year.

On Saturday both Liam Newton and Jack Healy, who worked their way up from the club’s under 20s, had arguably their best games of the season.

Healy’s pace and close control caused problems for the Bairns’ defence while Newton showed a more physical side to his game which will stand him in good stead for the next campaign.

They chased an equaliser that would hopefully give them a platform for another goal to keep up the fight for another week.

Sadly the wind was taken from East Fife’s sails when Falkirk hit them on the break and Charlie Telfer found the top corner with a magnificent shot which gave Jude Smith no chance.

Everyone inside the ground knew the game was up at that point and, although relegation had always been likely, the realisation that it was about to arrive was no less of a gut punch.

Crawford’s men refused to chuck it, though, and played on until the end, Jamie Semple’s penalty kick reducing the deficit only for Morrison to restore Falkirk’s two goal advantage in the dying seconds.

The full-time whistle came and with it was the confirmation that the Bayview club were dropping out of the league.

There are still two games to go, of course, two games where East Fife’s players will have a chance to at the very least end the season on something of a positive.

Those matches will draw a line under what has been a turbulent and disrupted campaign from the very first whistle...in fact, the source of the current troubles can probably be traced back to before a ball was even kicked competitively.

All teams suffer throughout a season with injury and unavailability but it’s a reason, and not an excuse, why East Fife have struggled so badly this campaign.

Long term injuries to key players have been a sledgehammer to the knees of the club and boss Crawford will be hoping for a far more settled pre-season than that of a year ago.

The Bayview manager said: “It’s a sore one but my focus now is to take positive steps forward.

“I’ve seen a lot of positives in performances but I know that’s not reflecting in the results.

“There’s stuff we’ll have to tweak here and there and stuff we’ll have to work on over pre-season.

“We have to make sure the recruitment is right and see where we are at.”