We finished the stronger
Gary Naysmith broke from his usual habit of not commenting on refereeing decisions after the Fifers' first loss of the league campaign on Saturday.
The player-manager, however, believed the outcome of the game had been “heavily influenced” by two or three decisions by whistler David Lowe – including a free kick award which led to Alloa’s first goal and the denial of a penatly against the hosts.
“I am not saying that’s why Alloa beat us – I’m saying it didn’t help us in a game which was difficult enough,” said Naysmith. “I’ve had my say about it and it will not change anyting – hopefully these things will even themselves out over the season.”
Although the Fifers gave away a poor goal which propelled Alloa 2-0 ahead, Naysmith said East Fife had concluded in the ascendancy and, had the game gone on another five minuntes or so, the outcome could have been different.
“I didn’t think there was much between the teams,” he said. “Credit to the players, especially after the way Alloa have been going – it was us who finished the stronger, even after playing for 120 minutes on Wednesday night.
“We probably scored too late to have time for a real go. We’d left ourselves with too much to do.”
However, Naysmith said he’d been pleased by the players’ spirit in previous games this season, when they’d come back from b eing behind.
Defender Jonathan Page hoped they’d have seven points on the board by overcoming undefeated Brechin this weekend. “Seven points from your first four games isn’t an unreasonable target when you’re new into a league,” he said.
ALLOA 2, EAST FIFE 1
East Fife left the Indodrill Stadium aggrieved at having failed to pick up any points in a closely-fought 2-1 loss to early pacesetters Alloa Athletic.
A disappointing 10-minute spell just before half-time on Saturday ultimately cost the Fifers – and they’ll feel hard done by as they had two penalty claims for handball which were both ignored by the referee.
The first penalty shout came on three minutes when Jason Kerr’s driving shot was blocked in the area, with the second coming minutes later from an East Fife free kick beside the near corner flag.
Despite some shouts from the Fife fans, referee David Lowe waved play on for both incidents – a decision which would enrage player-manager Gary Naysmith.
Alloa were almost gifted a goal on 28 minutes when Calum Waters’ corner kick was back headed by Chris Kane, whizzing past Wullie Muir and hitting the underside of the bar before the danger was eventually cleared.
As luck would have it, Alloa got a free kick just outside the box for handball in the 35th minute – Chris Kane deemed to have deliberately handled Jim Goodwin’s shot.
The resulting free kick was hit by Iain Flannigan, and his curling shot from 25 yards beat Wullie Muir and nestled straight into the top left-hand corner.
East Fife would have been disappointed at having conceded the free kick, given their two previous calls for handball.
However, they could have no qualms about the finish, an excellent strike which would have beaten most goalkeepers.
They could have prevented what happened next, however, as a mix-up in defence allowed Greig Spence through one on one with the keeper. With plenty of time, Spence calmly rounded Wullie Muir before sliding the ball neatly into the back of the net.
In the second half, East Fife pushed for the goal that would reduce the deficit. However, their lack of pace in the final third consistently let them down.
It wasn’t until the 63rd minute, when Kevin O’Hara replaced Paul McManus, that the tide started to turn, with the 18- year-old making a big impact on the remainder of the game.
In the 75th minute, the on-loan Falkirk player got on the end of a whipped in cross from Iain Flannigan, with O’Hara’s low, driven effort forcing an excellent save from Neil Parry to deny the Fifers their first goal.
O’Hara eventually got the breakthrough for East Fife; however, it came late. Fellow sub Mark Lamont took a corner and his fired-in ball was bundled about the box before it fell to O’Hara, who turned and smacked it past a hapless Neil Parry in the 89th minute.