League Cup draw is "exciting" for East Fife, reckons boss Stevie Crawford

East Fife manager Stevie Crawford (picture by Alan Murray)East Fife manager Stevie Crawford (picture by Alan Murray)
East Fife manager Stevie Crawford (picture by Alan Murray)
East Fife manager Stevie Crawford is looking forward to an “exciting” start for his side to its competitive campaign in season 2022-23.

The juiciest tie in the group stages of the Premier Sports League Cup will see a Kingdom derby at Bayview between East Fife and Dunfermline Athletic on July 9.

The draw has also paired the Methil men with two other teams from higher divisions in group C, plus one from the Highland League. And the quality of the opposition is such that Crawford believes his players won’t want to be bystanders.

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The Methil men have been drawn in group C in the initial eight-group phase.

After the meeting with the Pars – Crawford’s previous managerial post – the Fifers visit Alloa Athletic on Tuesday, July 12 and are at home to Highland League runners-up Buckie Thistle on July 19, before facing Premiership side Ross County at home on July 23.

Regionalisation has been abolished for 2022-23, after six years of the north-south split in the group stages.

“The way the League Cup is formatted, it’s never going to be an easy competition – but I think it's an exciting draw for us,” said Crawford. “The Dunfermline one sticks out, as it’s a Fife derby. The Alloa one will be very difficult for us – I know since (manager) Brian Rice went in, he will be getting his own stamp on things.”

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Crawford added he thought Ross County were “fantastic”, while the high standards of teams like Buckie Thistle in the Highland League were well known.

“There’s a good balance to the fixtures,” he added. “I don’t think we can turn round and say we're being hard done by. We have very testing games and I am sure the players we have under contract, and the players we have signed, will be thinking 'those are games where I want to be involved'.”

Crawford hoped, if possible, to slot five pre-season matches into the summer diary – which, he appreciated, sounded like a lot. Nothing was arranged yet but a conditioning programme would be going out to the players, after they’d had a break, allowing them to engage in match fitness and other preparation methods. The condition in which they returned, and how successful the club was with its signing targets, would likely influence the number of games.

Constant behind-the-scenes work was continuing as East Fife sought more players to boost the club’s 2022-23 challenge in League Two.

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Crawford is actively looking and talking with players, in the hope of bringing in around another four to Bayview, if possible.

The boss was working within a budget and was well aware that players may be talking to other clubs, while Premiership and Championship clubs would enter the fray soon to start recruiting, which would add more to the question of where players hoped to end up next term.

Talks didn’t always come to fruition and agreements were not always right for both parties – but ongoing efforts were being made, said Crawford.

The gaffer felt it was important to add to the squad and he hoped to find around another four players, if possible, while relying less on the loan market, if he could.

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“It’s important to try and focus very much – and we have been – on getting players that are right for East Fife,” he said.

"I am a great believer that, once you get things over the line, it’s for all the right reasons.”

He added that was the case with Allan Fleming and Scott Shepherd joining the club, both of whom wanted very much to be in the challenge next year.

Meanwhile, striker Jordan Mackenzie, 20, who recently earned East Fife’s young player of the year award, has become the first signing for St Andrews United under new manager Robbie Raeside and is set to join the Clayton Caravan Park Recreation Ground club at the start of next season.