Several torrid second-half minutes see it all fall apart for East Fife

East Fife 0, Alloa 3

By Ralph Mellon
Saturday, 26th March 2022, 7:08 pm
Updated Saturday, 26th March 2022, 7:15 pm
East Fife goalkeeper Jude Smith makes a confident catch in the air, fending of the challenge of Alloa's Connor Sammon.
East Fife goalkeeper Jude Smith makes a confident catch in the air, fending of the challenge of Alloa's Connor Sammon.

East Fife were pushed uncomfortably closer to the relegation trap door on Saturday after Alloa struck three swift second-half goals at Bayview.

The first had echoes of the previous week at Clyde with the disappointment at its loss, while the second was from a penalty, while East Fife had two spot kick claims turned down. The third was from a deflected shot form outside the box with little apparent danger pending.

However, the reality was they added up to a 3-0 defeat, with the Fifers not creating a great deal in terms of chances for themselves.

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And, with Dumbarton and Peterhead picking up points from their own matches, it’s going to be even more difficult for Stevie Crawford and his men to say in cinch League One.

But, arithmetically, it’s still possible and Crawford said after the game he’d accepted the challenge when he came into the job, adding: “I’m going to need people digging deep – myself included.”

Once the action began, there was an early opportunity for Connor Sammon, who got a left-foot shot towards goal, despite the attention in the box of the East Fife defence, but the Alloa man’s effort went wide.

East Fife shouts for a fourth-minute penalty were waved away when Kyle Connell appeared to be felled by an elbow in the penalty area.

Danny Swanson tried a hopeful eighth-minute snapshot for East Fife which went wide.

Alloa applied a bit of pressure around the quarter-hour mark as Craig Howie blasted over from close range following a corner kick. Moments earlier, a free kick just outside the box by Stefan Scougall was blocked by the Bayview defensive wall.

On 19 minutes, Swanson showed some clever skill by controlling the ball on his chest before firing towards goal but the ball spiralled into the side netting. The veteran Fife man delivered a superb cross from the left a little later as the home side attacked but the move was foiled by an offside ruling.

Alloa ‘keeper PJ Morrison smothered a dangerous-looking cross by Connell for East Fife soon afterwards.

Jude Smith, in the East FIfe goal, dealt fairly easily with a shot from Euan Henderson as the action started to warm up ahead of half time.

East Fife looked to have another penalty claim in the 57th minute when Danny Denholm went down under a challenge from Mark Durnan but play continued.

Immediately after each side made a substitution, Alloa took the lead on 62 minutes, as Kevin Cawley poked the ball home in a crowded area from close range.

Four minutes later, Scougall was brought down in the East Fife box and referee Chris Fordyce pointed to the spot. Scougall took the kick himself and made it 0-2.

Alloa scented blood after that although East Fife managed to hold them at bay – but there looked to be no way back for Stevie Crawford’s side in the 76th minute when a shot from outside the box by Henderson took a cruel deflection off teammate Steven Boyd to put the Wasps three goals to the good.

Home ‘keeper Smith got in a hopeless tangle while trying to clear the ball but one-one-one challenger Ross McIver, an Alloa substitute, could not capitalise, to the relief of the Fife fans.

The home side fought on until the end but couldn’t produce anything to really trouble the Alloa rearguard. Brian Rice’s side played with 10 men for the closing few minutes, having deployed all five substitutes by the time Scott Taggart had to go off.

Afterwards, Crawford appreciated the home supporters had gone away hurt, as had the players and coaching staff, while he accepted the game had “died” for East Fife at 2-0 and Alloa were worthy winners.

He said East Fife were undoubtedly in a difficult predicament and there was nobody more disappointed than he was at present. But he added: “I’ll not go home feeling sorry for myself tonight – I came into the job to try and keep us in this league and I’ll demand that from the players as the week progresses.”

East Fife: Smith, Watson (Healy 74), Higgins, Murdoch, Pollock (Semple 61), Denholm (Cunningham 79), Swanson, Mercer, Millar, Blair, Connell (Newton 79).

Subs not used: Campbell, Slattery, Walls, Steele, Mackenzie.

Alloa: Morrison, Taggart, Howie, Graham, Durnan, Cawley (King 67), Boyd (Niang 79), Scougall (O’Donnell 79), Robertson, Henderson, Sammon (McIver 61).

Subs not used: Hutton, Church, Armour, Armstrong, Riley-Snow.

Referee: Chris Fordyce.

Attendance: – 517.