Annan vs East Fife
Annan won this League match in controversial fashion and ended East Fife’s five match unbeaten run when Scott Davidson scored from the penalty spot after David Hopkirk was upended by a combination of the challenges from player manager Gary Naysmith and goalkeeper Allan Fleming which resulted in Naysmith being sent off.
It was a very important match for both teams with the pressure being more on Annan to get a victory than East Fife and in the end it was the controversial penalty decision which decided the game between two evenly matched sides.
The first half in comparison to the second half was fairly uneventful with neither team producing anything that would unlock either defence the only exception being a great strike by Kevin Smith in the 44th minute which produced an equally superb fingertip save from Alex Mitchell. This apart it was a half in which both defences were on top and chances were few and far between with neither side producing the necessary quality that would unlock their respective defences.
The second half in comparison was first class entertainment with Annan starting the half with much more purpose and taking a 51st minute lead when half time substitute Kieran Brannan picked out Peter Weatherson with a quality cross and Weatherson met the ball perfectly to head past keeper Allan Fleming from 8 yards. The goal certainly gave Annan the lift that had been missing and the East Fife defence were being seriously tested, minutes later Stuart McClolm came very close when his shot rifled past the upright.
The visitors brought on John McShane and Alan Cook in the 68th and 70th minutes, changed their formation to 4-4-2 and all of a sudden the roles were reversed with East Fife for the first time in the game starting to dictate the play. Cook almost equalised with his first touch of the ball when Alex Mitchell was forced to save Cook’s back post header. The equaliser arrived in the 75th minute and it was Alan Cook who scored with a great strike from the edge of the box when he connected with a pass played across the 18 yard line.
Cook’s impact was evident for all to see and a minute later the player made a surging run from his own half shrugging aside several challenges and finishing with a glorious strike form 25 yards which beat Mitchell but cannoned on the base of the post. East Fife were on the ascendancy and Annan had keeper Alex Mitchell to thank for appoint blank save in the 79th minute from Allan Walker.
Annan survived the pressure and as the game entered the last 10 minutes the outcome of the match was still very much in doubt until the final minute of the game when Davidson’s through ball unlocked the East Fife defence to present Hopkirk with the opportunity and his pace took him through on keeper Allan Fleming and the combined challenge by Naysmith and Fleming on Hopkirk resulted in the penalty decision being awarded and with it the merits of both sides of the argument why it had been awarded. Scott Davidson took on the responsibility to take the spot kick and he did not disappoint with a finish into the roof of the net.
Gary Naysmith gave an honest view on his take of the penalty decision.” I don’t deny that I caught the player but he rode the challenge got his shot in and the keeper saves his effort and the boy goes down. I was disappointed for the players who had put so much into the second half and I thought they deserved to get something form the match.”
Annan boss Jim Chapman said,”It has been a tough week and the players responded well following their mid week defeat up at Brechin in the Cup. We were in control for large spells in the match and were forced into making changes with injuries to Steven Sloan and Steven Swinglehurst we fell out of the game after East Fife made their changes but once again the players showed great determination to get back into the game.”
ANNAN ATHLETIC: Alex Mitchell, Steven Black, Steven Swinglehurst ( Keiran Brannan ht), Martin McNiff, Peter Watson, Steven Sloan (Matty Flynn 39 min) , Ryan McStay , Josh Todd , Peter Wetherson ( Scott Davidson 69 min) , David Hopkirk, Stuart McColm. Subs not used Jake Gemmel GK, Steven Logan, Rabin Omar, Dan Wadge.
Goals- Weatherson, Davidson (pen)
EAST FIFE : Allan Fleming, Fraser Mullen, Scott Smith, Stevie Campbell, Ewan Moyes, Allan Walker, Ross Brown, Kevin Smith, Gary Naysmith, Lewis Barr ( Alan Cook 70 min), Ross Campbell (John McShane 68 min). Substitutes not used Jordan Miller GK, Caolan McShane, David Maskrey, Nathan Aistan .
REFEREE: Gavin Duncan. Assistants Ross Haswell and Gary Doherty