Annan v East Fife
After the euphoria of Annan’s historic victory over Hamilton in the William Hill Scottish Cup last week they were brought back down to earth with a bang at a snow covered Galabank against title contenders East Fife. Manager Jim Chapman was forced to make one change from the previous week with the suspended Matty Flynn being replaced in midfield by recent on loan Airdrie signing Jordan Morton otherwise it was the same line up which defeated Hamilton so convincingly last week.
Image by Callan Media
It was however a different story this week as East Fife ripped a woeful Annan apart in the opening half with the visitors scoring four times without reply to secure a fine victory for the fifers who leap frogged Annan as both teams strive for the title and the play off places.
Annan started brightly enough forcing a corner in the opening minute but almost immediately at the other end Austin set up a scoring opportunity for Jamie Insale who’s shot slipped past the upright. It was an early warning for Annan and was a sign of what was in store, and in the 8th minute the Fifers opened the scoring. Gary Naysmith’s corner was not properly defended and the ball broke to Austin whos shot struck the post and on loan Hibernian striker Jamie Insale nipped in to slide the ball into the net from 6 yards to give the visitors a dream start.
Annan did not look comfortable on the adverse conditions and East Fife looked menacing and dangerous going forward and in the 36th minute Annan found themselves two goals down and with a mountain to climb. It was however a mistake by Annan defender Martin McNiff when he tried a pirouette in his own half and he was dispossessed by Austin who finished clinically with a low shot into the corner of the net.
There was however more distress for the Annan supporters to endure when within the space of six minutes the Fifers scored a further two goals to leave Annan with an almighty task. Jason Kerr piled on the agony for Annan in the 39th minute when he headed home an inviting Gary Naismith free kick and 3 minutes later Annan’s first half capitulation was concluded in the 42nd minute when Kyle Wilkie volleyed home a Jamie Insale cross to give East Fife a four goal half time advantage.
Annan were out early for the second half as the snow continued to fall and for the first time in the game they started to ask questions of the East Fife defence who had never really been troubled in the first half. Within the space of minutes Weatherson rifled in a shot which flashed past the upright and minutes later Kelly palmed Weatherson’s effort to safety. Annan were playing with more purpose and Josh Todd’s 20 yard effort sailed over the bar. Osadolor and McDonald were were introduced at the expense of Sloan and Finnie in the 54th minute and Macdonald almost had an immediate impact when his header went narrowly past the post.
It was a reversal of the first half with Annan taking the game to East Fife but they were finding it difficult to penetrate the well drilled East Fife defence. Weatherson tried his luck with a 25 yard free kick but Kelly was equal to the task saving the 60th minute strike. Nathan Austin went close in the 62nd minute when East Fife broke down the right with the striker’s shot going wide of the target.
Osadolor’s 65th minute effort went high over the bar as Annan continued to take the game to the visitors, minutes later there was a drop ball on the corner of the East Fife 6 yard box but the opportunity was once again well defended by the visitors. Annan were eventually rewarded for their efforts late in the second half when Greg McDonald’s well struck volley from 12 yards left Kelly routed to the spot. Annan continued to take the game to East Fife who made three late substitutions and with time drifting towards full time Peter Weatherson reduced the leeway with another well struck low shot which beat Kelly.
It was an important and emphatic victory for East Fife who had lost the 2 previous games to Annan in the first half of the season but it was a victory which brings them right back into the title mix. The match was played in very difficult conditions for both teams and there were times in the game when you wondered if the match would be finished but the referee deserves credit for finishing the game after East Fife had romped to a four goal interval lead and from there on in he would have found it difficult to call the game off.
ANNAN ATHLETIC: Jordan Hart, Steven Black, Steven Sloan ( Smart Osadolor 53 min) , Martin McNiff, Peter Watson, Ryan McStay ,Ryan Finnie ( Greig McDonald 53 min), Jordan Morton, Peter Weatherson , Josh Todd , Rabin Omar ( Liam Park 75 min). SUBS NOT USED: Blair Currie, Stuart McColm, Scott Norman.
Annan Goals- McDonald (84) Weatherson (90)
EAST FIFE :Liam Kelly, , Pat Slattery, Stevie Campbell, Johnathan Page, Ross Brown, Nathan Austin (Jordan Austin 87 min), Kyle Wilkie , Gary Naysmith, Scott Mercer, Jason Kerr ( Declan O’Kane 80 min),Jamie Insale ( Fraser Mullen 83 min) Subs Not Used Graeme McGregor, Ryan Goodfellow
East Fife Goals- Insale (8) Austin (36) Kerr (39) Wilkie (42)
Referee John McKendrick . Assistants Sean Carr and Chris McTiernan.