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East Fife preview

  • Post published:24 February 2023

Baby steps are needed as Stranraer look to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season.

Matty Connelly has urged his team-mates to build on the 1-0 victory at Elgin City last weekend when East Fife visit Stair Park tomorrow.

The goalkeeper said: “We just need to take it one game at a time.

“The boys are feeling good after Saturday and training on Tuesday was a really high intensity and at the top of our game.

“At the back of the mind is we beat East Fife last month and we know how well we played.

“We want to go out and replicate that.

“I think everybody who played wants to replicate what they did on the pitch.

“After East Fife, we take it to next week, go to get a result and take it a game at a time.

“There is nothing really in the league and it is very, very tight.

“We are only five points off of third place but you cannot get caught too much up in that.

“We need to take baby steps and one game at a time.”

Scott Robertson’s strike at Borough Briggs gave the Blues a little bit of breathing space between themselves and Bonnyrigg Rose at the bottom of the table.

Connelly was in goal as Stranraer recorded a clean sheet up at Borough Briggs

However, the Midlothian men have a game in hand and could yet close the gap.

Connelly, who is on loan from Motherwell, described the win over Elgin as “absolutely huge”.

He added: “I think the bus journey being that long makes you want to get something out of the game.

“Nobody wants a four-hour bus journey and thinking what could have been.

“Everybody was delighted and in good spirits going into the East Fife game.”

The shotstopper has been with the Steelmen for the vast majority of his career, starting out at Motherwell when he was just four years old.

A loan spell at Gretna 2008, which saw him appear on television as the side took on Berwick Rangers in the Scottish Cup, was ultimately cut short by injury.

Now, he is making the most of his time at Stair Park.

Connelly, who turns 20 next week, said: “I’ve absolutely loved it.

“I have loved it so far after coming in just over a month ago in the middle of January.

“Everybody has been really welcoming.”

Last meeting

East Fife 1-3 Stranraer

Stranraer ran out victorious at Bayview last month

Fans of both clubs only need to cast their minds back little over a month for the last meeting between Stranraer and East Fife.

January 21 saw the Blues finally end their travel sickness with a 3-1 win. Josh Walker scored from the penalty spot after Aaron Brown’s surging run was ended in the box. The advantage was doubled before the break when James Hilton kept his cool to capitalise on a defensive mistake to beat Allan Fleming. Scott Mercer managed to pull one back but nerves were eased when Brown calmly slotted home to ensure it was a debut to remember.

East Fife: Fleming, Murdoch (Newton 79), Mercer, Steele (Walls 76), Quinn, Millar, Trouten, Agnew (Healy 56), Ferguson, Shepherd, Steven (Schiavone 57).
Not used: Denham, Parker, Slattery, Omar and Beveridge.

Stranraer: O’Connor, Girvan, Ross, Watt, McIntosh, Brady (Eze 89), Hilton, Forrest, Walker (Gallagher 80), Brown, Duffy (Malcolm 78).
Not used: Ellis, Robertson and Connelly.

Last five meetings

  • East Fife 1 Stranraer 3 (Mercer; Walker (Pen), Hilton and Brown) at Bayview Stadium on January 21, 2023
  • Stranraer 2 East Fife 2 (Woods and Watt; Schiavone and Healy) at Stair Park on August 27, 2022
  • East Fife 4 Stranraer 2 (Dowds, Agnew (Pen), Denholm and Wallace; Victoria and Robertson) at Bayview Stadium on February 22, 2020
  • Stranraer 0 East Fife 2 (Davidson and Agnew) at Stair Park on December 14, 2019
  • East Fife 1 Stranraer 1 (Wallace; Jones) at Bayview Stadium on October 5, 2019

Last five games

Scott Robertson scored the winner against Elgin City last weekend


  • WIN v Elgin City (A): 0-1 (Robertson)
  • LOSS v Bonnyrigg Rose (H): 0-1
  • LOSS v Forfar Athletic (A): 2-1 (Malcolm)
  • LOSS v Stirling Albion (A): 1-0
  • WIN v East Fife (A): 1-3 (Walker (Pen), Hilton and Brown)

East Fife

  • WIN v Dumbarton (H): 2-0 (Steele and Ferguson)
  • WIN v Albion Rovers (A): 0-1 (Schiavone)
  • DRAW v Stirling Albion (H): 1-1 (Healy)
  • LOSS v Annan Athletic (A): 3-0
  • LOSS v Stranraer (H): 1-3 (Mercer)

Last time out

Jonny Ngandu made his Blues debut up at Elgin


Lineup v Elgin City: Connelly, Girvan, Ross, Ecrepont (Watt 23), McIntosh, Robertson (Brady 87), Hilton (Malcolm 87), Gallagher, Ngandu, Grant, Brown.
Not used: Walker, Duffy and O’Connor.

East Fife

Lineup v Dumbarton: Fleming, Steele, Newton, Denham, Quinn (Millar 21), Slattery, Trouten (McManus 68), Healy (Shepherd 79), Denholm (Walls 68), Ferguson, Schiavone.
Not used: Murdoch, Omar, Agnew, Mansouri and Beveridge.

Five facts

Connor McManus (right) is back in action for the Fifers

1. Former Stranraer man – and now East Fife midfielder – Connor McManus made a long-awaited return to action earlier this month. The 26-year-old, who made 104 appearances for the Blues, had not featured since January last year.

2. There has not been a goalless draw between Stranraer and East Fife at Stair Park since 1996 – before 17 members of the Stranraer squad were born. The players are Luke Scullion, Kyle Girvan, Craig Ross, James Hilton, Josh Walker, George O’Connor, Dean Hawkshaw, Dylan Forrest, Aaron Brown, Finn Ecrepont, Luke Watt, Scott Dunn, Sean McIntosh, Matty Grant, Matty Connelly, Jonny Ngandu and Ikechi Eze.

3. Ex-Stranraer man Steven Bell turns 38 on Friday. The former Dunfermline Athletic man was named in the Stranraer team of the decade and made 159 appearances for the Blues. The last appearance came in a 5-1 defeat to Ayr United, who he then joined.

4. East Fife have avoided defeat on each of their last five visits to Stair Park. The last home win came in August 2017 when a certain Jamie Hamill scored the only goal of the game. The home side that day was: Belford, Dick, Barron, Neill, Bell, Hamill, Robertson, Anderson, Turner (Agnew 66), Thomson (Woods 66), Wallace (Okoh 81). Not used: Lang, McGowan, Stoney and Currie.

5. The last time Stranraer avoided defeat over the four league meetings with East Fife in a single season was in 2013/14. The Blues opened with a 2-0 win at Stair Park (goals from Martin Grehan and Jamie Longworth) before winning 2-1 at Bayview Stadium thanks to goals from Longworth and Steven Bell. Liam Buchanan scored for the hosts. David McKenna and Stephen Stirling scored in another 2-0 at Stair Park and the final meeting finished 1-1. Nathan Austin and Scott Robertson scored the goals.


You can pay at the gate at Stair Park

Entry for home league games is on a ‘pay at the gate’ basis.

Pricing is as follows:

  • Adult – £15
  • Concession – £10
  • 12 to 16 Years Old – £5
  • Under 12 – FREE

Photos: Bill McCandlish