East Fife hosted Albion Rovers at the MGM Timber Bayview Stadium in a crucial match for both home and away sides. The Fifers had faced Albion three times already this season, with two 1-0 wins going to East Fife, both at the Reigart Stadium, and a 3-2 defeat at home. East Fife were sitting in fourth and with results elsewhere going the way of the Fifers, could secure a guaranteed spot in the playoffs for the Methil men. Last weekend East Fife suffered an agonising defeat at the hands of Dumbarton who narrowly triumphed 1-0.
Greig McDonald made one change to the team that lost to Dumbarton away from home as Alan Trouten came back into the starting line up in place of Brogan Walls who dropped to the bench.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors in the 8th minute when a poor header back put Mutale through on goal however Fleming gets behind it well. A few minutes later Shepherd won a free kick from around 30 yards and stood over the ball to take the set piece himself, but his attempt was blazed over the bar.
Around the 20-minute mark, Bevan had a multitude of chances to give the Rovers the lead. The first being after a neat one-two saw him with only Fleming to beat, but he shanked his shot as the effort goes high and drastically wide. Minutes later a failed cross ended up dropping at the forwards feet after a deflection, but this time he scuffed the shot. The third came when he was slipped through in behind the defence, but his shot trickled wide of the post and out for a goal kick.
In the 35th minute, Albion took a deserved lead when a short corner resulted in a looping cross towards Graham, inside the area, who directs a header goalwards where Mutale was there to knock the ball in from close range.
East Fife weren’t behind for long however and the visitors were made to pay for their poor finishing when the home side levelled shortly before half-time when Jack Healy did what Jack Healy does! Murdoch played the ball out to the winger on the left-hand side who cut inside onto his favoured right-foot and curled a sensational strike into the top corner of the net.
HALF TIME: East Fife 1-1 Albion Rovers
Early in the second half East Fife came out all gun blazing and were almost ahead when Shepherd drove down the right wing before attempting to pick out substitute Walls but he was denied by a last ditch challenge from Malcolm.
In the 64th minute, East Fife took the lead when a good passage of play from Denham and Steele led to Trouten finding himself in acres of space to push forward before playing the ball off the Shepherd on the right wing. The East Fife man’s effort was blocked but Ferguson picked up the loose ball curled a shot into the top corner of the net, putting the Fifers in front.
Albion really piled on the pressure and the game neared the full-time whistle and one last chance fell their way when an excellent corner from Reilly was curled into the centre of the six-yard box when it was met by Bevan gets the ball goalwards, but Trouten was on hand to clear the ball off the line, securing the points and the playoffs for the Fifers.
FULL TIME: East Fife 2-1 Albion Rovers
A massive result for the Fifers and with results going the way of East Fife, it means that a place in the playoffs is secured with a game remaining. Next up is a trip to Angus to Forfar Athletic who are currently 5th. East Fife still have the chance of finishing third should Annan fail to win, and the Fifers triumph at Station Park.
East Fife: Fleming, Steele, Denham, Murdoch, Newton, McManus (Millar 90+1’), Schiavone (Walls 45’), Ferguson, Trouten, Healy, Shepherd (Steven 90+4’)
Albion Rovers: Leighfield, Fernie, Malcolm, Sonkur, Wilson, Graham, Fleming, Leslie, Bevan, Mutale (Wright 74’), Reilly
Referee: Steven Kirkland
Report by Andrew Laing