East Fife took the camel trek down to the bottom corner of the country to take on 8th placed Stranraer at Stair Park. Prior to the weekend, Stranraer have picked up 6 points in their last six games whereby East Fife had collected 7 points in their last 3 games. Last weekend East Fife won an excellent three points at Bayview against league leaders Dumbarton thanks to a bullet header from Aaron Steele and a late tap in from Alex Ferguson to secure a 2-0 win. Stranraer and East Fife have already met twice this season. The first ended in a 2-2 draw at Stair Park after a late Jack Healy screamer and the second finished 3-1 win for the visitors at Bayview.
Greig McDonald made two enforced changes to the team that beat Dumbarton last time out as Jonathan Page and Kieran Millar taking the place of the injured duo of Aaron Quinn and Pat Slattery who both picked up knocks last weekend.
After a couple half chances for both sides, along with a penalty claim for this visitors for a foul on Aidan Denholm, Stranraer took the lead when a low cross from Brady managed to evade everyone on its way to Matty Grant who tapped in at the back post to give the home side an early lead.
Straight after taking the lead, Stranraer had the chance to add a quick fire second when Brown picked up the ball in the middle of the East Fife half, took a couple touches, and from around 25 yards attempted a long-range effort but the ball narrowly sails over the bar.
In the 26th minute of the game, East Fife have their first real chance when Healy is played in on the wing and cut inside but his effort flies well over the bar much to the disappointment of the travelling East Fife support.
With five minutes remaining of the half, Stranraer had a penalty claim of their own when a free kick is partially cleared and picked up by Brown who goes down under Steele challenge, but the referee was uninterested.
HALF TIME: Stranraer 1-0 East Fife
After only four minutes of the second half, Stranraer doubled their lead when Ngandu who skipped past Millar in midfield and feeds Brown in behind the East Fife defence who in turn squares the ball to Hilton who passes the ball into an empty net doubling their lead and giving the Fifers having a mountain to climb.
A minute after scoring a second, East Fife had an opportunity at the other end to get one back. Steele played the ball over the top of the Stranraer back line for Healy, putting him in a 1-on-1 with Connelly but, with a heavy touch, and the keeper is off his line quickly, the ball is gathered by the Stranraer stopper.
In the 66th minute, Healy attempted to add another to his goal of the season contenders with an audacious effort. Shepherd is played through and does well to gather the ball, on the edge of the area, passes to Schiavone who sends a very nicely placed cross towards Healy at the back post, but his acrobatic effort is well off target.
With the minutes remaining Shepherd had a chance to set up a nail biting finish when substitute, Taylor Steven did very well to wrestle the ball away from his man to play a well-timed through ball to Shepherd but was denied by Connelly with a good save with his feet.
FULL TIME: Stranraer 2-0 East Fife
A disappointing result for the Fifers puts them into 7th, dropping 3 places in 90 minutes, which highlights the tightness of the league with only 3 points separating 4th to 8th. Next up for the Fifer is a home match against in-form Forfar Athletic.
Stranraer Team: Connelly, McIntosh, Robertson, Ross, Watt, Grady, Brady, Gallagher, Hilton (Duffy 88’), Ngandu, Brown (Walker 85’)
East Fife Team: Fleming, Steele, Denham, Newton, Page, Denholm (Shepherd 59’), Trouten, Millar (McManus 59’), Ferguson, Healy (Walls 70’), Schiavone (Steven 78’)
Referee: Barry Cook
Report by Andrew Laing