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The New Saints 2-2 East Fife (5-4 after penalties), Saturday 14th October 2023

Park Hall Stadium, SPFL Trust Trophy R4

East Fife failed to progress into the last 8 of the SPFL Trust Trophy, after a valiant showing saw them pipped out by Welsh Premier League Champions The New Saints by a penalty shootout. The European adventure ended, though it was a gallant effort, and was matched with an equally fantastic Fife support.

The opening five minutes saw a few chances for TNS, specifically for their talisman, Clark. The creative midfielder had two chances from range, though both shots were sent in the direction of the singing Fife support, behind the goals.

After 13 minutes of play, it was The New Saints who broke the deadlock, through a lovely passage of play. Brobbel caught his pass well and skipped by fullback Jacob Comerford. The winger chose to cut inside and fire a shot, which was well saved by Fleming, but in true striker’s fashion, TNS forward Brad Young was in the right place, at the right time, and he tucked home for the hosts.

After 35 minutes of play, East Fife levelled the scoring through Alan Trouten, who converted the rebound for his own penalty, handing the Fifers a lifeline in the tie. The chance was created by Nathan Austin, who danced round the Saints’ keeper before being dragged down inside the box.

Shepherd should have fired Fife ahead before the break, after a tidy pass from Austin, but Fife’s number 9 dragged his shot wide.

The second half started in the same manner that the first half ended, with a shot from Brobbel being fired wide of the posts, past Fleming.

After 55 minutes, Daniels had a moment of excellence as he cleared a McManus header off the line, keeping the scores level.

After 59 minutes, East Fife took the lead, in incredible circumstances. McManus converted with an acrobatic finish, following Roberts’ initial save. The chance was made yet again by Austin, who put in his best performance so far this season for the Fife in Oswestry.

In the 75th minute, TNS had a penalty kick of their own, after a hand ball in the box from Liam Newton who was trying to defend an attack. Brobbel stepped up, and finally got his reward, as he wrongfooted Fleming, setting up a nervy last 15.

With 10 on the clock, East Fife found themselves in a 3-on-3 thanks to Walls and Mitchell’s hard work, though Shepherd’s shot went wide of the post.

Walls had another chance in the dying embers, which hit the target, but was well saved by Roberts.

TNS had a free kick in the 92nd minute, in a dangerous area, though it did not challenge Fleming.

The referee appeared to be allergic to his whistle and gave a great opportunity to TNS in the 95th minute, though Young’s header was saved well by Fleming. The save brought East Fife to penalties, for the second time in the tournament, and the 4th time this season.

Cieslewicz stepped up first for TNS and slotted home, handing the hosts the advantage. Connor McManus wend first for the Fifers, and produced a swift reply, despite the ‘keeper getting a touch.

Next up was Holden, whose penalty send Fleming the wrong way, before Brogan Walls’ penalty snuck in, after Roberts got a hand on both so far.

The penalty scorer Brobbel was up next, and he slotted home, restoring the TNS advantage. Substitute Gregor Nicol was next up for Fife, and like the two before converted, after Roberts got a hold of it. 3-3.

Brad Young was next up for TNS, after scoring earlier in the contest, wrongfooted Flem to put the Saints ahead. Trouten stepped up next, and despite missing a penalty earlier in the tie, made no mistake about this one lashing it past Roberts, although the stopper guessed the right way.

The last of the regulation penalties was taken by Routledge, who rocketed the ball into the top corner, making it 5-4. And that’s how the scoreline would say, as for the 6th time on the night, Connor Roberts guessed the right way, and this time saved loanee Kieran Mitchell’s penalty, ending their European adventure in disappointing fashion.

Report by Oli Anderson

TNS - Roberts, Daniels, Hudson, Davies, Marriott, Smith (Holden 58’), Redmond (D Williams 58’), Clark (Routledge 90+4’), Brobbel, Young, J Williams (Cieslewicz 67’). Subs not used - Thompson, Baker, Dafydd, Jones, Brennan.

East Fife - Fleming, Comerford (Docherty 45’), Page, Easton, Newton (Walls 75’), Trouten, Millar, McManus, Shepherd (Hambrook 84’), Austin (Mitchell 75’), Healy (Nicol 75’). Subs not used - Beveridge, Schiavone.

Referee – Huw Jones

Attendance - 512