Highlights courtesy of East Fife TV
Berwick’s first league away game ended in disappointment for the 50 or so travelling supporters who’d made the trip to Methil as the ‘Gers suffered a crushing defeat to bring them back down to earth following a promising start to season.
Former Berwick man and summer target Kyle Wilkie was perhaps predictably in the thick of things throughout, finishing the game with two goals and two assists in a performance that left home fans salivating.
Berwick made just one change to the team that had saw off Montrose a week previous, with David Morris’ impressive impact from the bench taking Dwayne Coultress’ spot in the starting eleven.
It’d be Wilkie who set up East Fife’s first goal, twisting and turning down Berwick’s left before playing in Nathan Austin. The dangerous striker turned Robert Wilson with ease before dispatching a low effort into Kevin Walker’s bottom right corner.
The only shot Berwick would register on target all game would come shortly after as Berwick looked to respond, Lavery collecting a Blair Henderson knock down only to see his effort comfortably gathered by the East Fife number 1.
It was indicative of the dominance the side in black and gold had over the game that it would be Berwick’s only testing effort, and it wasn’t long before the Berwick defence were back in the firing line as a long ball was sent for Austin to chase. With Ewan McNeil still up the park from an attack, Wilson applied pressure on Austin but was soon shown a clean set of heels, the strikers squared ball across the six yard box dealt with well by Fairbairn.
However it’d be a pull-back that did the trick for East Fife’s second, Wilkie teeing up another Summer target Kevin Smith who showed intelligence to find the space and fire home from eighteen yards in a similar fashion to that which Austin had earlier.
The Fifer’s grip of the game only got tighter with a procession of missed chances, the ‘Gers looking increasingly shellshocked from the barrage.
However the home side’s patience would pay off after slow build up saw their player-manager Gary Naysmith play slide a ball through to Wilkie who sharply turned Wilson before dispatching a thunderbolt into the top right hand corner.
Berwick were sent out early for the 2nd half, probably to consider a few stern words at half-time, but things would soon go from bad to worse as the constant attacks continued.
Patrick Slattery came close from distance early on in the half, sending a looping half volley just over Walker’s bar, but it’d be the manner in which Berwick conceeded the fourth soon after that would be arguably make it the most disappointing goal conceeded, another long ball too easily gathered by Austin who tapped into the path of the onrushing Wilkie to place in off the Kevin Walker’s left-hand post.
With the game all but over East Fife probably took their foot off the gas somewhat, but chances still kept flowing. Ross Brown was denied by a good save from Walker before sending a ball across for Austin to head over, but quite how the winger was allowed so much time and space for his at the back post for his initial effort would probably leave Colin Cameron and Jason Dair baffled.
Walker again had to be at his best to deny Austin who, now full of confidence, waltzed through the ‘Gers once more only to see his effort blocked by the ‘keeper.
And he’d remain in the thick of things as he had to show quick feet to get across to a Gary Naysmith free-kick from deep, the stopper’s initial positioning giving him a lot of work to do to tip it around the post for the corner.
However Walker’s day would soon come to an end after yet another long ball found Austin, the ‘keepers attempt to rush out and block his effort ajudged to have been with his hand and outside the area.
This led to the first appearance of Mark Walters, a summer signing from Coldstream, who replaced Darren Lavery. The ‘Gers were just about to introduce Kieran Ainslie for a senior debut, so perhaps the timing of the red is the only thing that ‘went’ for Berwick. The stopper was relieved of a nightmare start when the resultant free-kick was scored, only to be ruled out for offside owing to the new rule with regards to interference of play.
Shortly after though some good work on the left from Smith allowed him to work the ball into the path of the ever-present Austin, who battled well to get the ball to substitute Craig Sutherland, the striker making no mistake when put through one-on-one with Walters.
But the stopper would be a relieved man when a backpass forced him into taking on Austin, only to be bullied off the ball by the striker – his effort thankfully rebounding off the post and out of play.
Henderson headed over a half-chance for Berwick before East Fife headed wide, before the referee finally called an end to a miserable day for the Dream Team.