For the second year running East Fife were pulled out of the hat for the SPFL Trust Trophy alongside St Johnstone B. Last season East Fife were 1-0 victors against the young Perth side, however with a change of manager and various players since, the Fifers were looking to repeat the victory this time out.
Scott Mercer claimed the captain’s armband in the absence of Stewart Murdoch and 4 changes were made to the starting team that overcame Forfar late on at the weekend. Alan Trouten, Jack Healy, Mikey Cunningham and Lucas Williamson all were integrated into the starting line-up with Ryan Schiavone and Kieran Millar dropping to the bench. Murdoch missed out due to work commitments with St. Johnstone loan duo of Alex Ferguson and Taylor Steven unable to play against their parent club.
Cunningham got the game underway for East Fife. With East Fife controlling the ball at the back, the first ten minutes went by fairly uneventfully. The Saints had a few minor chances, however nothing to seriously challenge Allan Fleming in the East Fife goal.
The first real chance of the opening 15 fell to the hands of East Fife as Mercer sent a beautifully lofted ball over the top of the Saints defence through to Scott Shepherd who was taken out by Saint stopper Jack Willis at he attempted to round the keeper, giving the referee little option but to point to the spot. Penalty specialist, Trouten stepped up and rolled the ball into the bottom right corner, despite the ‘keeper guessing the correct way, giving East Fife an early advantage.
St Johnstone’s best chance of the game came in the 35th minute as Max Kucheriavyi, on the left wing, passed into an unmarked John Moreland in the centre of the box, but he failed to get a clean connection on the ball, resulting in a comfortable save for Fleming. After a monotonous first half, being mostly dominated in possession by the Fifers, the referee blows the half time whistle.
Half-time: East Fife 1-0 St. Johnstone B
One change was made at the break as Trouten was replaced by Millar. The intensity was clearly upped from both teams after half time with The referee dished out his first yellow card of the game in the 54th minute with Scott Shepherd the recipient for dissent. Shepher was replaced by Schiavone shortly after.
2 minutes after Schiavone’s entrance to the game, East Fife doubled their advantage when a deep corner from Balde was only partially cleared to the feet of Scott Mercer at the back post who sent an excellent strike into the bottom corner giving East Fife a 2-0 lead.
The young Saints finished the match as Liam Parker is sent off for a second booking for tripping up Balde. The red card gave East Fife a stronger hold on the game, as the dominance from the Methil men continued. East Fife had a few good chances one being a Mercer free kick which found Sam Denham at the back post however his headed effort hit the side netting.
Stevie Crawford made his third substitute of the match when Liam Newton made way for Brendan Ramsay, making his competitive debut for the club. 2 minutes later East Fife added a third as Jack Healy played in Mikey Cunningham who ended up with a one on one with Wills to slot past the keepers near post gaining his first competitive goal of his East Fife career.
In the 85th minute, Balde was brought off to a standing ovation after an incredible performance with Sam Martin came on, also making his competitive debut for the club and made in instant impact.
After various blocked and saved shots in the Saint’s penalty area, the ball fall to Healy who also saw his effort blocked however it was fell into the path of Sam, who had a gaping goal in front of him, to slot it home to make it 4-0.
Late on St. Johnstone B almost added a consolation however Fleming was able to make the save. The referee blew his whistle for full time ending the night 4-0 to the Fifers. East Fife will find out who they play in the third round of the challenge cup on Monday including the possibility of a trip to either Wales or Northern Ireland.
The Methil men have the long journey to Stranraer to look forward to on Saturday as the team hope to get a result and performance for the traveling supporters to enjoy.
Full-Time: East Fife 4-0 St. Johnstone B