Oli Anderson previews today’s match against The New Saints.
This weekend, the Fifers have the opportunity to be the first Scottish Club to record a victory against European opposition in October, when they face Welsh Side The New Saints in the last 16 of the SPFL Trust Trophy. The Black and Gold have had plenty of time to prepare as their clash with Bonnyrigg Rose was postponed last weekend due to the adverse weather conditions.
This is not the first time that our opponents have faced foreign opposition this season however, as they had a crack at both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League in July of this year, however aggregate defeats to Häcken and Swift Hesperange respectively, saw them crash out in the early qualifying rounds.
Their domestic start is much more admirable however, as they are yet to lose in domestic action this season, with their most notable week coming at the beginning of August when they knocked title-rivals Connah’s Quay Nomads out of the Welsh League Cup, before blowing them away 6-2 in the opening league fixture. TNS have played 14 domestic games so far this season, and have won 12, and drawn the other two, showing their rich run of form domestically. Luckily for the Fifers, this is arguably not a domestic game, so hopefully that can fall in favour of the Fifers.
The Saints have not been shy in front of goal either, scoring 46 goals in the aforementioned 14 games, and only conceding 10, so we are hoping that our attackers have their shooting boots on this evening in Oswestry!
The Path to the Last 16
The New Saints got the more favourable route to this stage, as international opposition (TNS, Bala Town, Cliftonville and Coleraine this season) did not have to enter this competition until the 3rd round, along with the cinch League 1 and Championship sides from the season prior, whereas we entered the competition a round earlier.
How did TNS book their ticket to host the Methil Milan?
The Saints got through the third round in rather simple fashion, overcoming Hibernian B 3-0 at Meadowbank Stadium (Home of Edinburgh City).
Arguably the most experience player on the park for either side opened the scoring, as Darren McGregor fired the ball into his own net after 5 minutes, putting TNS ahead.
It was a game controlled by Ben Clark, who put the second away after 37 minutes, doubling the TNS advantage, before he set up the third for Brad Young just after half time, easily dispatching The Cabbage’s youth side.
How did the Fifers earn the chance to visit Shropshire, England, to play the JD Cymru Premier League Champions?
The Fifers have had to fight hard in both of the rounds they have progressed through so far, firstly overcoming Dundee B at the Kilmac Stadium, via a penalty shootout. The Young Dees held firm throughout the 90 minutes, but penalty goals from Murdoch, Shepherd. Healy, Newton, and Walls, paired with an important save from Reece Beveridge saw the Fifers past the second round.
The third round tie saw an encounter against newly relegated side Albion Rovers that too started poorly, as Niyah Jospeh gave the Rovers the lead after 30 minutes, putting East Fife on the back foot.
However, it is clear that, at half time, Greig McDonald gave the players the proverbial rocket, and they totally dominated the second period, and were rewarded with the two goals they needed to progress, thanks to Jonathan Page and Connor McManus.
East Fife’s standard of performance has considerably improved since the Rovers game 4 weeks ago, which hopefully leads to this upcoming encounter south of the border being even more mouth-watering.
Outs- Pat Slattery, and Charlie Murray still miss out due to previous injuries, while Ross Philp and skipper Stuart Murdoch are both also unavailable.
Ins- There are no new returns to report sadly, we wish the guys who currently miss out a speedy and smooth recovery.
East Fife will don the 120th anniversary kit this weekend, with the black and gold shirt, matched with black socks and shorts, while the goalkeeper will be clad in the all-yellow kit.
Our hosts today will wear their green & white striped home top with white shorts and socks, while the goalkeeper will don their all-purple kit.
Tickets can be purchased HERE, on the TNS website.
Please find match prices below:
Adult - £10
Concessions - £5
Junior (U16s) - £2
Under 12s go FREE (With a paying adult).
Live Streaming of the game will be available on East Fife TV for our international fans. This can be accessed through a monthly or season pass. You can access this HERE! There is no live stream for viewers within the UK & Ireland.
The on-pitch official this evening will be Huw Jones while his assistants running the line are Daniel Beckett and Harry Hendricks. Due to the prestigious nature of this tie, there will also be a fourth official. The man with that honour is Aaron Wyn Jones.
We hope that all travelling Fifers arrive safely and get behind the boys for what will be an incredible matchday, and overall trip for the club, and the fans.
Mon the Fife!