Oli Anderson previews tomorrow’s SPFL Trust Trophy match against Albion Rovers
**Fans are reminder that tomorrow's match kicks off at 1:00PM**
After coming up short again last week, losing 1-0 to Dumbarton at the Rock, East Fife have a much-needed break from League Two action, hosting ex-SPFL side Albion Rovers at the MGM Timber Bayview Stadium in the Third Round of the SPFL Trust Trophy.
The loss now leaves East Fife on an abysmal run, of 8 games without a win inside 90 minutes, our only results coming through penalty shootouts after goalless draws, firstly against Queen of the South at Palmerston Park in the League Cup before more recently beating Dundee B at Dens Park in the 2nd round of the SPFL Trust Trophy.
Albion Rovers have failed to win in their last two games too, succumbing to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday night University of Stirling, conceding an injury time equaliser, before last weekend losing 2-1 to Celtic B at the Excelsior. An early goal from Rocco Vata gave the hoops the advantage before Joe Bevan’s 32nd minute equaliser was cancelled out by a second half Mackenzie Carse goal.
Albion Rovers have not had an easy run either so far in this competition, as they faced St Mirren B in the first round, who the squeezed past on penalties, before beating an in-form Tranent side who find themselves in 3rd place in the Lowland League after 9 fixtures.
Albion Rovers This Season So Far
Due to their commitments in the League Cup group stages at the start of the season, Albion Rovers had their first 3 games in the Lowland League postponed. This, accompanied with them having reached this stage of the SPFL Trust Trophy, has left the Rovers playing catch up in the early stages of the season. Having only played 6 games so far, the newly relegated side have enjoyed 3 wins, at the expense of former league sides Gretna and East Stirling, as well as Bo’ness United. They have also had their aforementioned draw midweek, with Stirling Uni, and one of their two defeats coming at the hands of Celtic B. Their only other loss came in their debut match in the Lowland League, as they lost out to Hearts B 2-1 in Coatbridge.
Perhaps to be expected, Albion have also progressed through the first round of the South Challenge Cup, thumping fellow Fifers Newburgh in the first round 4-0. They host West Park United in the second round next Saturday. It is an incredibly busy time for the Coatbridge side in terms of cups, as they also have their Scottish Cup First Round Tie against Stirling Uni to look forward to in a fortnight.
East Fife’s Slow Start
As previously mentioned, East Fife’s winless run has now stretched to 8 games. The last time the Fifers were victorious was against Elgin City on the second matchday of the group stage of the League Cup. The concern however is not just in the poor results, but also the lack of goals, having only scored twice since the aforementioned cup game against Elgin. Only one of these has come from open play, when centre back Johnny Page bundled the ball over the line at Stair Park to grab a point against Stranraer. The other came from a Trouten penalty up at Borough Briggs. Despite this slow start, East Fife has shown potential to develop and improve, with performances slowly starting to improve. The only worry is whether or not we will see the improvements come quick enough as we are already playing catch-up with the rest of the league.
Having played 5 games so far in the league, East Fife are sat on just 2 points, making their provisional points for the quarter just 4 based on current form. This is a large dip from last season’s form which saw East Fife accumulate 11 from their opening 9 games.
The last time these two sides met, East Fife secured their playoff place with just two games to go in the league campaign last season. The result held Albion at the foot of the table, forcing them to need a minor miracle to stay up.
Despite this, Albion started much better than East Fife and were able to penetrate the Methil defence on several occasions with their route one style of play. Allan Fleming was forced into a big save early on to deny Euan Mutale, who latched onto a through ball to go one on one with the goalkeeper.
East Fife’s build up play looked more impressive although their lack of a cutting edge in the final third cost them in the early exchanges.
The opening goal came after 35 minutes and was in favour of the away side. The ball was floated in by Luke Graham following a short corner, and Mutale leapt higher than anyone around him, from inside the six-yard box.
Albion Rovers’ lead did not last long however, as just nine minutes later, Jack Healy produced a potential goal of the season contender to bring in an equaliser for the Fife. He danced around two, before unleashing a magnificent long-range effort from 25 yards out, which no ‘keeper could get near.
This sent the two sides in at the interval all square.
In the second 45, East Fife were much more direct and created many more chances, deserving to go in front when they did.
With 25 minutes still on the clock, Ferguson found himself in a pocket of space and unleashed a fantastic, curled effort into the side netting from the far-right corner of the 18-yard box. His goal capped off an excellent individual performance.
With the clock running down, you could see the desperation begin to set in, as the Rovers edged even closer to dropping out of the pyramid. They began to throw everything they could at the Fifers, although the Black and Gold held on, showing their resilience.
In the dying embers, Alan Trouten sacrificed himself on the goal line, heading a shot clear, which was just as good as a goal at the other end, as shortly after, the referee blew his whistle marking full time giving the players their hard-earned reward for the season’s effort. A crack at promotion.
There will be a minutes applause prior to kick off tomorrow as we remember former goalkeeper Bert Allan who sadly passed away earlier this week. Supporters are kindly asked to be in their seat in time to observe this.
Outs- There are no fresh outs for the Fifers, with our injury list staying at two, in Pat Slattery and Charlie Murray.
Ins- Ryan Schiavone returns to fitness and is available for selection tomorrow.
East Fife will don the new, 120th anniversary black and gold top, matched with white socks and shorts on Saturday, while the goalkeeper will be clad in all yellow for the tie.
Albion will be in their away kit, wearing all blue for the affair. The Rovers’ goalie will be in all Red for the clash.
Season Tickets are not valid for SPFL Trust Trophy, please find prices below.
All Adults: £10
U16s- Free! (No ticket required)
Please note, there are no cash turnstiles at Bayview and supporters are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets online. Online sales are available right up until kick off. Tickets can also be purchased over the phone by calling 01333 426323 or directly from the club office.
As this match takes place outside blocked hours our live stream is available worldwide via East Fife TV for £10. Live coverage will begin at 12:45pm and your returning commentators for the tie are Oli Anderson and Pat Slattery.
The on-pitch official on Saturday will be Lloyd Wilson while his assistants running the line are David Dunne and Brian Christie
The stadium bar will be open from 10:15am pre-kick off on Saturday, as we prepare for a 1 o’clock kick off. We welcome you to join us for a drink before the match.
Issue Number 4 of the 23/24 edition of the Bayview will be available from vendors outside the ground pre-match.
If you can’t make today’s match, programmes can also be bought online for home delivery.
MON THE FIFE!