Barry Smith’s revival shows East Fife aren’t missing Naysmith
Many of an East Fife persuasion were left fearing the worst when popular boss Gary Naysmith swapped Bayview for the borders, joining Queen of the South. But those concerns are quickly disappearing under new boss Barry Smith.
The Fifers have won all three of their Ladbrokes League 2 outings since the former Aldershot Town gaffer arrived – chalking up two clean sheets along the way.
Winless in eight games heading into December, the side’s turnaround has been hugely impressive, with five wins on the trot now – a Scottish Cup victory at Edinburgh City followed by four in the league.
But it’s been the manner of those which has really caught the eye.
The increasingly solid backline at Bayview recorded three league clean sheets on the bounce in December, the first time they’ve done so since achieving the feat in the fourth-tier way back in January 2008.
In the 2-0 victory over Peterhead, they limited the Blue Toon to a solitary shot on target, while Stenhousemuir – beaten 1-0 at Ochilview – fared little better with just three.
And even in recent games where things haven’t gone quite so smoothly, the Methil club have shown real resolve to get the job done.
Nowhere was that mixture of dynamism and determination more visible than in their 2-1 triumph at Livingston last weekend, with two goals in the last 20 minutes ending the Lions seven-game winning run on the road in style.
They may have enjoyed a stroke of luck with the winner, as a clearance cannoned off midfielder Scott Robinson before flying into the net, but it was just reward for their hassling and harrying of the table toppers.
While East Fife were always going to miss Nathan Austin after his exit to Falkirk, their frontline is beginning to click into gear.
The experienced, bustling Kevin Smith is proving difficult to handle for opposition defences, while Jamie Insall has made the step up from Ladbrokes League 2 to League 1 with ease, netting six times already this season.
Meanwhile, teenage livewire Kevin O’Hara – on loan from the Bairns – is beginning to develop his game, and has scored in two of his last three outings.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing