Peterhead welcomed East Fife to Balmoor on Saturday as The Blue Toon fought to remain at the top of the League 2 table. With the reverse fixture taking place at the Bayview Stadium on the opening day of the season, East Fife travelled north with a point to prove after Peterhead found the net three times, including a goal of the season contender from Conor O’Keefe.
STARTING XI: McKenzie, D. Strachan, R. Strachan, Jas. Brown (C), Ross, McKee, McCarthy, Jack Brown, O’Keefe, Shanks, McAllister.
As the sun set on Balmoor, visitors East Fife got the match underway in The Blue Toon’s 10th match of the league campaign. With Andy McCarthy returning to the starting lineup after a shoulder injury, his time looked to be up after only 5 minutes when an awkward landing on his shoulder seemed to aggravate the existing injury but in true McCarthy style, decided to play on despite advice to be substituted. Neither side seemed to be able to take control of the match, with minimal chances falling for either team. The first real sniff of goal for Peterhead came from Kieran Shanks who after a long ball from McKenzie and a flicked on header by McAllister, headed the ball narrowly off target. The visitors looked to respond through Walls who after driving forward through the Peterhead defence, saw his effort well saved by McKenzie who got a strong hand to deny the East Fife forward. With Peterhead coming more into the match, it was Jack Brown who looked to open the scoring from distance however his shot from 25 yards was just high of the East Fife net. In similar fashion to Peterhead’s first attempt on goal, an askew back pass found McKenzie out of position on the right hand side and after sending a long ball up the pitch, found the head of McAllister who flicked on to Shanks. Shanks quick burst of pace was enough to find space in the penalty area and a left footed shot into the bottom corner was enough to fire Peterhead into the lead. After another couple of fine stops from McKenzie to deny Mitchell and Walls again, Peterhead entered the interval with the advantage.
HT: Peterhead 1 – 0 East Fife.
McCarthy took centre stage and got the match going for Peterhead as play resumed for the 2nd half, and was then replaced by Jordon Brown in a double substitution which also saw Danny Strachan make way for Caleb Goldie. Into the 2nd half The Blue Toon seemed to come out a totally different side, with more determination to enjoy possession and create more opportunities. McAllister looked to add to his already great achievement of 200 goals for the club by cutting in on his favoured right foot but his shot was blocked by an East Fife defender. Fleming in the visiting goal did well after McKee’s cross/shot caught the goalkeeper off guard but managed to deal with the midfielder’s effort. With The Blue Toon ramping up the pressure, Jack Brown took the ball and ran from midfield only to be hauled down by opposing midfielder McManus who subsequently entered the referee’s book. It was Joe McKee who stepped over the free kick and after another quality ball into the box, Shanks’ header was dealt with by Fleming. A first East Fife substitute welcomed Healy onto the pitch who replaced Millar and 10 minutes later was followed by Schiavone who replaced Mitchell. Peterhead’s 2nd double change of the afternoon saw Scott Ross and Joe McKee replaced by Robert Ward and David Wilson as The Blue Toon pushed for a goal to double their advantage. Ward immediately looked to impress given his chance at Balmoor and forced a foul from Schiavone who entered the referee’s book. The winger did well down the right side and after a bit of trickery to get past his man, his cross found Jordon Brown at the back post who headed it into the back of the net to double Peterhead’s lead. After the manager’s first league goal this campaign, he won the ball in the final 3rd before finding O’Keefe who looked to find the back of the net in similar fashion as he did in the reverse fixture but Fleming dealt with the effort. As the match drew to a close, man-of-the-match Rory McAllister was replaced by Aaron Reid. A final chance for The Blue Toon almost had Wilson on the scoresheet however he wasn’t able to latch on to Jason Brown’s header from O’Keefe’s corner.
FT: Peterhead 2 – 0 East Fife.
In very much a game of two halves which provided little chances for either side, it was Peterhead who capitalised on their chances and claimed all 3 points. With a fine finish from Shanks and a first league goal from Jordon Brown, The Blue Toon remain at the top of League 2. Returning to league action after a 4 week absence due to cup ties and match postponements, Ryan Strachan believes his side were far from their best however is pleased with the positive result and to continue their positive form.