East Fife v Annan
East Fife missed out on going to the top of the league after Annan lifted the points in this top of the league encounter. Annan overcame all the odds culminating in a superb second half defensive display after Peter Weatherson was sent off in the 41st minute having already put Annan ahead with a deft header in the 15th minute. To compound Annan’s misfortune Bryan Gilfillan had to be replaced at the centre of defence by Steven Swinglehurst in the 43rd minute after Gilfillan sustained a nasty gash to the side of his knee which requiried stitching.
It was very much a backs to the wall second half display from the visitors as Annan boss Jim Chapman set his team up to sit deep and frustrate the lack lustre East Fife attack who for the second week running failed to hit the target and penetrate the resolute Annan defence who deserved all the plaudits for soaking up everything that the Fifers through at them.
Annan started the match with Stuart McColm taking the place of the suspended Smart Osadolor otherwise it was the same team knocked Berwick Rangers out of the cup the previous week, with Peter Watson and Steven Black still nursing injuries. East Fife started the game without Patrick Slattery and the unavailability of Jason Kerr, Allan Kerr and Joe McGovern.
The match was only 4 minutes old when David Ferguson was booked for a rash challenge on Page. The first scoring opportunity of the match fell to Josh Todd who picked up a cross ball at the back post and somehow hit the ball past the post. It was an early warning for East Fife but 2 minutes later Annan scored, once again the ball was swung in from wide on the right when Rabin Omar’s high cross was headed in via the keepers right hand post by Peter Weatherson. It was a match winning goal by Annan’s tallisman who managed to out-jump two defenders.
Kyle Wilkie blasted over the bar following a corner in the 19th minute and minutes later Wilkie tested Jordan Hart with a low shot. Matty Flynn was set up by Stuart McClolm in the 25th minute but the effort went narrowly past the post. East Fife’s talented striker Nathan Austin showed his class turning Gilfillan out on the right and sprinting into a promising position but the finish was disappointing.
Austin was at the heart of another couple of opportunities when he tested Hart in the 33rd minute and minutes later he blasted over the bar as the home side went all out to square the match before half time. Martin McNiff was then given a yellow for upending Austin on the edge of the box and from the resulting free kick, Naysmith’s effort was tipped over by Hart.
The Weatherson sending off appeared harsh after he bundled the central defender finishing with a short swing of his foot which never looked like connecting with the defender. It was however a key moment in the match and one which Annan had to live with.
The second half was very much a case of East Fife taking the game to Annan as they went down to a back 3 to combat the 10 man Annan team. The Fifers enjoyed plenty of the ball but the final balls ultimately were crosses to the heart of the defence which were mopped up time and time again by the Annan defence who appeared to be content with the situation.
Scott Norman was introduced in the 73rd minute with Stuart McColm being sacrificed up front as Chapman dug his team in deeper with Ryan Finnie being switched over to his more accustomed right back position.
The best chances of the half for East Fife fell to Kyle Wilkie who headed past when under pressure and Nathan Austin blasted wide from 12 yards after controlling the cross ball. They were the 2 best scoring opportunities in a half where Annan’s defensive qualities shone through to earn them the victory in this top of the table clash.
EAST FIFE : Ryan Goodfellow, Fraser Mullen, Jonathan Page, Ross Brown (Jordan Leyden 75 min), Nathan Austin, Kyle Wilkie , Declan O’Kane, Graeme McGregor (Kevin Smith 64 min), Gary Naysmith, Scott Mercer, Kieran MacDonald ( Trialist 80 min) . Subs Not Used Joe McGovern, Craig MurraysStevie Campbell.
ANNAN ATHLETIC: Jordan Hart, Bryan Gilfillan (Steven Swinglehurst 43 min), Scott Norman 80 min), Ryan Finnie, Martin McNiff, David Ferguson, Steven Sloan ,Rabin Omar (Jamie Watson 80 min) , Mathew Flynn, Peter Weatherson , Josh Todd, Stuart McColm ( Scott Norman 73 min), Josh Todd. SUBS NOT USED: Blair Currie, Liam Park, Ryan McStay, Greig Macdonald.
Annan Goals- Weatherson (15)
Referee – Alan Newlands, . Assistants David McNiff and Colin Macdonald.