It was supposed to be a visit to a packed Starks Park in Kirkcaldy for a potentially explosive Scottish Cup tie between first division Raith Rovers and SPL side Aberdeen. However due to an administrative error (i.e. I forgot to buy the tickets) we instead had to settle for a grey drizzly afternoon in Methil for the 2nd division clash between East Fife and Dumbarton.
I watched a documentary on lower league grounds a few years back and when it came to East Fife I remember sitting in wonder at a ground which was situated at the Methil docks whose only redeeming feature seems to be the enormous power plant domineering high over it. On arrival in Methil it was clear why that’s all I could remember about the place as we drove through a rather desolate town filled with closed down shops, boarded up buildings and empty rusting playgrounds. The ‘stadium’ is nothing more than one small stand and a low brick wall running along the other three sides with a reasonably nice view of the sea to one side and that power plant on the other. The plant, decommissioned ten years ago, now lies empty and unused – a horrible dark and dank building which resembles something from a terrifying dystopian future.
As sponsors of the Scottish leagues Irn Bru send a ‘football bus’ to a different ground every Saturday and this week was Bayview’s turn so before the match Jamie took part in the football shot challenge and managed to win himself a foam hand and several other ‘Bru related gifts. The foam hand turned out to be a useful cushion on the damp seats as we took our place amongst the 500 or so fans. I had to admit that I was a bit apprehensive that the game would turn out to be a dirge but the opening 15 minutes dispelled any such fears. It was evident within the first minute or two that defensively, East Fife were a shambles. Dumbarton were opening them up with simple passes down the sides and had already threatened before Ben Gordon had time and space in the box to fire past Fifers ‘keeper Michael Brown.
The home side rallied well and with Dumbarton’s defence looking almost as equally shaky player-manager Steve Crawford fired in from close range on 13 minutes. The home fans joy was short-lived however as just two minutes later they were left horribly exposed again when Scott Chaplain hit a superb curling shot to put the away side 2-1 up. The game was open with both sides keen on exploiting the others deficiencies and it was Dumbarton who gained a strong foothold on the match when another simple pass confused the Fifers rearguard and the impressive Derek Carcary rounded the goalkeeper, composed himself and slotted home. 3-1 at half time.
East Fife came out with real intent in the second period and ten minutes in they won a corner which fell to Crawford at the back post and he hit a beautiful dipping volley into the top corner to give his side a fighting chance. They could not create any further clear cut opportunities despite some incessant pressure, the best chance following to Paul McManus who could not quite get the ball out his feet when clean through. Dumbarton held on and secured 3 points to give them some hope of a play off place at the end of the season.
Journey - 6
Pie - 6
Bovril - 5
Ground - 3
Game – 7