EAST FIFE grabbed all three points last night when an injury-time Bobby Linn penalty gave the Fifers the verdict over an injury-hit Arbroath side.
On a cold night at Gayfield, the Lichties were first to show they meant business when Steve Hislop only just failed to get on the end of a massive kick-out by keeper Darren Hill after 10 minutes.
Hislop had the ball in the net five minutes later but had no complaints when he was ruled to have strayed offside before taking his shot.
Linn was a thorn in Arbroath’s side, and on 16 minutes sent a curling lob at Hill which the keeper was relieved to see fly over the bar.
As the first half drew to a close, Marc McCulloch was shown a yellow card by the referee for a clumsy challenge on Linn.
The visitors started the second half as they had ended the first, with Lloyd Young and Keith Watson trying their luck from long range.
Arbroath were in no mood to give up, however, and East Fife keeper Michael Brown was fortunate to get away with fumbling a close-range Hislop shot on 56 minutes.
As the game drew to a close both sides made changes to try and gain the upper hand.
The 90 minutes had been and gone, though, when Alan Rattray broke up the visitors’ final assault on the Arbroath goal by bringing down David Muir just inside the penalty box.
The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Linn made no mistake, slotting the ball low and hard past the helpless Hill to put his side into fifth place in the second division.
Arbroath manager Jim Weir said, “That was hard to watch and we clearly still have a mountain of work to do.
“We defended better than we have in some recent games but, as I said after the game to Alan Rattray, it’s no use defending well for virtually the whole game and then making a silly challenge at that stage, when there’s nothing you can do to get back.”
East Fife player-manager Steve Crawford, who played until the 77th minute, said, “We played well enough to win and it would have been a travesty to have lost.
“I thought we knocked the ball about well and our movement was sometimes excellent and I felt it was only going to be a matter of time before we made the breakthrough.
“The last five minutes were very, very nervy but we got the three points we wanted to take into Saturday’s game.”