In pictures: East Fife 1-2 Morton (AET)

The game's flawed ruling on handball forced East Fife to pay the penalty on Saturday afternoon.

Monday, 5th April 2021, 9:20 am
East Fife skipped Kevin Smith breaks the deadlock for the Fifers

With the Fifers closing out a 1-0 home win over Championship side Morton, a cross deep inside the Fife box rattled off the hand of Ross Dunlop from point blank range.

There was absolutely nothing Dunlop could do about the contact, he made no attempt to handle the ball and win any sort of advantage.

Ref Alan Muir, though, decided that contact was enough to penalise the Fifers, despite any intent from Dunlop.

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Cole McKinnon breaks up the park as the Fifers press

Morton showed no mercy, scoring the penalty which sent the game into extra-time where they would go on to win the tie and advance.

It was cruel on an East Fife side who had been the better of the two across the 90 minutes.

Fife boss Darren Young was livid with the call and, after watching the video back before speaking with the press, believes the matchday ref will realise his error when he too watched the footage.

Young said: “I’ve watched it back and the referee says he (Dunlop) made himself bigger.

East Fife have a late penalty claim snubbed as the hosts press

“But, once the referee watches it back himself, he’ll soon realise he made a mistake which put us out of the cup.

“We contained them and did very well and I can’t praise the boys enough.

“But decisions can cost games.

“We’ve had maybe seven penalties given against us this season and only one was stonewall.

Danny Swanson looks to make an impact after coming off the bench

“You can quite clearly see in the video that Ross Dunlop brings his hands in, it hits his hand and his hand goes back and the ref gives the penalty.

“Alan is a good referee and has a split second to make a decision but it’s cost us.”

The Fifers took a deserved lead shortly before the hour mark when Liam Newton surged brilliantly into the box and squared for Smith to net.

And then came the decision which changed the game, Dunlop cruelly penalised for something he could do nothing about.

East Fife's Ross Davidson picks his pass

Sean McGinty stepped up and crashed his penalty into the top corner before Robbie Muirhead won the tie in extra-time.

The Fifers were out on their feet but could hold their heads high.

Playing in a more advanced position, Liam Watt again impressed
Liam Newton had a terrific impact in the middle of the park
Scott Agnew and Craig Watson give the Morton defence a torrid time. All pictures by Kenny Mackay