Forfar Athletic v East Fife, cinch League Two, Saturday 6th May 2023, Station Park
East Fife travelled north for the final game of the regular season to take on 5th placed Forfar Athletic at Station Park. After confirming a play-off place following a 2-1 defeat of Albion Rovers last weekend, Manager Greig McDonald used the opportunity for some valuable gametime for players who haven’t featured as much recently.
Nine changes were made to the starting line-up this week with Reece Beveridge, Johnathan Page, Aidan Quinn, Rabin Omar, Pat Slattery, Kieran Millar, Aidan Denholm, Connor Young and Taylor Steven all handed starting berths. Under 20s players Jude Black, Logan Briggs, Keir Allan and Brendan Ramsay were also included among the substitutes.
East Fife’s first chance of the game came in the 19th minute when the Fifers won a free kick just outside the box on the left-hand touchline. With Loons’ keeper McCallum expecting a cross, Omar tried to catch him off guard at the near post, but stopper manged to tip the ball over the bar.
In the 25th minute of the game, a long ball over the top of the Forfar defence reached the feet of Steven who cuts inside and, from just outside the box, forced McCallum into a very good save with a powerful drive.
As the half an hour mark was approaching, Forfar were attempting to break out from the back following an East Fife attack when Nditi was caught by Omar, however the referee ruled this to be a dive and sent the Forfar man for an early shower after picking up a second yellow.
The resulting free kick was a pinpoint delivery to the back post which Steele headed back across goal, but no one in an East Fife shirt was able to get on the end.
Just before half-time, Steven curled a corner deep into the middle of the box and picked out Steele who had managed to break free from his marker, but his headed effort is just wide of the post.
HALF TIME: Forfar Athletic 0-0 East Fife
9 minutes in to the second half, Forfar won a free kick just on the edge of the box and League Two player of the year nominee Craig Slater stood over it. Slater’s effort clipped the top of the wall and dipped on target, but Beveridge got across his goal well to turn behind for a corner.
A minute later, Forfar won another corner and this time Slater picked out Munro who attempted to flick a header goalwards that was cleared off the line by Oamr.
Entering into the final ten minutes of the match, East Fife had a chance to win the game when a low and fast ball across the face of the goal from Steven found Schiavone a couple of yards out, but the forward was denied by an excellent point-blank save from McCallum.
With five minutes left, Denholm picked up the ball inside his own half and drove forward towards the Forfar back line before laying the ball off the Steven on his left who unselfishly squared the ball to Schiavone who could only balloon his effort over the bar.
Forfar manage to snatch victory late on when Flanagan collected the ball on the right who, with use of trickery, skipped his way into the box and played a ball across goal where Aitken was waiting to tap home the winner.
FULL TIME: Forfar Athletic 1-0 East Fife
It was an impressive performance at times for East Fife, but it was the Loons who emerged victorious and confirmed that East Fife will be playing Clyde on Tuesday in the playoffs. Clyde finished 9th in league one however their form has improved over recent weeks with wins against FC Edinburgh and Montrose and draws with Peterhead, Kelty Hearts and Falkirk all in their last six games.
Forfar Athletic: McCallum, Nditi, Moore, Munro, Hutchibson, Thomson (Flanagan 65’), Slater, McCluskey (Aitken 45’), Robson (Watson 66’), Ross (Gillies 31’), Armour (Brindley 45’)
East Fife: Beveridge, Page, Steele (Allan 80’), Newton (Briggs 80’), Quinn (Black 69’), Millar, Slattery, Denholm, Omar (Schiavone 66’), Young (Ramsay 80’), Steven
Referee: Lloyd Wilson
Report by Andrew Laing