A second home game in a row saw Stranraer make the trip up to Bayview in a rearranged encounter originally scheduled for December. Last week East Fife battled out a 1-1 draw against Stenhousemuir and the Fifers were looking to continue a solid start to 2023 with a home win versus Stranraer. The hopes were high as Stranraer were in poor form and winless away from home all season. The previous time the Methil men met the blues was an away fixture which 2-2 after a late Jack Healy wonder goal.
One change was made to the starting eleven as Scott Agnew made his first start since resigning with Liam Newton dropping to the bench.
East Fife had a chance to take the lead after 3 minutes when Stewart Murdoch attempted to recreate his wonder strike from Elgin City a few weeks ago. His shot was stopped by O’Connor in the Stranraer goal but only pushed out to Alex Ferguson a few yards out however the offside flag quickly raised.
On the 14th minute Stranraer won a penalty kick when Aaron Steele was adjudged to have brought down Aaron Brown down inside the penalty area. Despite Allan Fleming guessing the right way, Josh Walker’s penalty is near unstoppable and as he fires into the top corner of the net.
Stranraer were now in the ascendancy and the Southern side had a chance to double their lead when Hilton sent a quickly drilled ball into Brown whose effort is incredibly saved by Fleming and out for a corner.
East Fife’s best chance of the half came on the 29th minute when a close-range free kick taken by Scott Shepherd came crashing back off the crossbar, inches away from levelling the game.
Five minutes later Shepard had another golden chance to equalise the game. Taylor Steven on the right-side outstretched finds Scott Shepard in the box, who wrstles the ball away from the defender and gets into a clear scoring opportunity however his poke at goal is narrowly wide of the post.
With five minutes left of the half Stranraer doubled their lead when a hopeful ball through to Hilton should’ve easily been cleared by Mercer however, he fails to control the ball and it puts Hilton through on goal and into a 1-on-1 with Fleming to slots home at the near post.
HALF TIME: East Fife 0-2 Stranraer
As the second half began, Stranraer showed no signs of slowing down as their first chance of the second half came after 5 minutes. The ball in the air drops to Walker in the middle of the box and, on the volley, rifles it towards Fleming who makes the save.
On the 64th minute, East Fife reduced the goal deficit back to one. A long-throw dropped to Trouten who lays it off to Mercer to fires it into the back of the net, bringing the Methil men back into the game.
Stranraer soon restored their 2-goal advantage when a cross from Hilton picked out Brown in the middle of the box who knocks the ball in, making the game 3-1 to the visitors.
With one minute remaining of the 90, Stranraer have an effort go seal the three points when Brown had a strike on goal excellently saved by Fleming.
FULL TIME: East Fife 1-3 Stranraer
After a tough result to take, East Fife only drop one place to 5th, one point behind fourth place in a very tight league. Next up for the Fifers is an away trip down to inform Annan Athletic, the team will be hoping to secure a much needed three points.
East Fife: Fleming, Mercer, Steele (Walls 76’), Murdoch (Newton 79’), Quinn, Agnew (Healy 56’), Trouten, Ferguson, Millar, Steven (Schiavone 57’), Shepherd
Stranraer: O’Connor, McIntosh, Girvan, Watt, Ross, Hilton, Forrest, Brown, Walker (Gallagher 80’), Brady (Eze 90+2’), Duffy (Malcolm 78’)
Referee: Stewart Luke
Report by Andrew Laing