Persistence pays off for East Fife versus ten-man Stranraer
It was a close-run thing, though, as the Fifers were just five minutes away from their third defeat on the trot despite h aving a man advantage for 80-odd minutes at the Blues’ Stair Park due to an early red card for Craig Ross for taking out visiting striker Nathan Austin.
Defender Jonathan Page, netting his first goal since returning to the Methil club, got their equaliser with 86 minutes on the clock as the visitors finally found their way through a hitherto-resolute home defence and past keeper Martin McDonald.
It was only thanks to a double penalty save by visiting goalkeeper Allan Fleming on 77 minutes that the Fifers were within reach of level pegging at that point, however. The 39-year-old denied Ben Armour from the spot not once but twice after referee Ryan Lee judged him to have been off his line first time round.
That spot-kick, potentially putting manager Greig McDonald’s team two goals behind with just over ten minutes left to play, was awarded for a foul by 69th-minute substitute Connor McManus on home midfieder James Dolan.
It came almost 25 minutes after Thomas Orr had put the hosts 1-0 up from a Dolan assist.
McDonald was relieved to see his side pick up a point, even if they remain bottom of the division after two games on goal difference from Clyde and Elgin City, telling East Fife TV afterwards: “The red card obviously changed the dynamic of the game totally.
“It was a really good move from us that brought about the red card – it was what we were trying to do in terms of how we wanted to play – but that obviously went out of the window.
“Whilst it can be a positive obviously that you’ve got an extra man, we all know it can be difficult as well, and credit to Stranraer, they stuck to their task with two banks of four, just trying to be horrible and stop the game.
“I’m not going to say we shouldn’t have got all three points. We should have. I think when you’re playing against ten men for that long, you should win, but, at the same time, we’ve come off the back of a sore one last week and it’s a difficult place for us to come. We don’t have a brilliant record here in recent years.
“We also got caught with a sucker-punch on the break. Credit to Orr, it’s a decent finish from him, but that was a real punch in the heart.”
Though not overly impressed by much of his team’s play, McDonald was heartened by their refusal to give up even as a likely loss loomed, saying: “We’ve come to a difficult venue and got a point.
“That wasn’t the plan – we wanted three – but we never gave up and I thought the character and determination we showed in the last 20 minutes was excellent, just keeping going, keeping knocking at the door, keeping asking questions, keeping doing the right things.
“It is difficult to play against ten men and I’m pleased for us that we’re off the mark and we’ve got a point on the board. It’s a difficult place to come and I think in the long run, people will see this as a good point.”