Forfar Athletic 3 (1)
Malin 19, 51
East Fife 2 (1)
Forfar Athletic continued their play-off push on Saturday with a 3-2 win over struggling East Fife, despite throwing the lead away twice.
The Loons made four changes from the midweek win against Albion Rovers, Odmar Faeroe, Martyn Fotheringham, Gavin Malin and Danny Denholm coming in for Michael Dunlop, Willie Robertson, Gregor Fotheringham and Jordon Brown.
The home side almost took the lead within 60 seconds of the start of the game when a cross from Denholm was met by Chris Templeman from a tight angle, but his header was saved by East Fife’s Callum Antell.
The Fifers first chance came after 5 minutes when poor defensive play allowed Colin Samuel through, although he could only see his shot saved by Darren Hill. Martyn Fotheringham headed over the bar seven minutes later from a Hilson cross.
Dunfermline loanee Paul Willis carved open his own goal scoring opportunity on the quarter hour mark when his solo run culminated in his dangerous shot flashing past the post.
GAVIN MALIN gave Forfar the lead in the 19th minute with a stunning goal, Iain Campbell saw a free kick hit the wall, Fotheringham’s follow up was also blocked, and the ball broke out to Malin who hit a first time shot from 30 yards that flew into the top corner, giving Antell no chance.
Malin’s goal seemed to fire up his team mates as two minutes later Gavin Swankie could have doubled The Loons’ lead when he picked the ball up on the halfway line, made his way to the East Fife box but when he rounded the keeper he pushed the ball past too far and was unable to stop it from going over the byline.
Steven Campbell was given the game’s first booking after 23 minutes after he hauled down Denholm just outside the box, from the resulting free kick Swankie had the free kick blocked, Malin’s attempt was also blocked and after a stramash in the box the ball fell to Dale Hilson who sent in a cross which was met by Stephen Tulloch but his shot was pushed of the line by Antell who was his team’s man of the match, keeping them in the game.
The next twenty minutes went by without anyone really troubling either keeper, with only Bobby Barr firing over from 20 yards and Antell yet again saving East Fife’s behinds after Swankie raced past a mediocre defence but failed to beat the on-loan Hibernian man.
East Fife equalised in added time when they were given a soft free kick outside the penalty area, and Martyn Fotheringham was booked for dissent, ROBERT SLOAN took it and curled in a brilliant effort beyond the reach of Darren Hill.
HALF TIME: Forfar Athletic 1 East Fife 1
The Loons started the second half with a bang, with just six minutes gone in the half, Danny Denholm sent in a cross from near the corner flag which made it’s way to the edge of the box and it was that man again GAVIN MALIN, who sent a thunderous low shot into the bottom corner for his second of the day and fourth since joining in December.
Three minutes later Forfar fans felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Gavin Malin went down under pressure when he was shaping up to shoot.
East Fife had their first chance of the second half in the 57th minute when Paul Willis flashed a shot across the face of goal but there was no-one in a red shirt to knock it in. Nine minutes later veteran Bob Malcolm saw his free kick go wide of the post.
60 seconds later the Fifers were lucky to still be 2-1 down after Callum Antell pulled off two brilliant saves on the line, the first after Hilson flicked on a Fotheringham corner and Templeman got his head to it and the second from Stephen Tulloch’s shot when he was set up by a Faeroe cross. Robert Sloan then went off to be replaced by striker Liam Gormley as East Fife aimed to get back into the game.
Jordon Brown and Omar Kader also came on to replace Dale Hilson and Martyn Fotheringham in the 76th minute, and almost three minutes later East Fife were level when Tulloch fouled Samuel to give a free kick away in a dangerous position, Malcolm whipped in a cross from it and SCOTT MCBRIDE rose to nod past Hill.
This week was Forfar’s turn to grab a goal almost instantaneously after conceding, and Gavin Malin was involved in yet another goal as he played that pass that allowed Iain Campbell to fire off a near post cross that GAVIN SWANKIE flicked past the keeper for his first goal since early January.
The Loons dominated the final few minutes with Swankie having a curling effort saved, Campbell’s free kick tipped over and Malin having two long range shots saved. East Fife’s keeper was absolutely excellent, if it wasn’t for him it would have been a cricket score.
A fact for people who like stats, this was the 6th 3-2 game between Forfar Athletic and East Fife at Station Park, five of them going the Loons’ way, and just one going the Fifers’ way.
Forfar are now on 45 points although are still 5th and a point behind Arbroath after their comeback win over Albion Rovers. They do however have a game in hand on the Red Lichties which they play on Tuesday against Angus rivals Brechin City at Glebe Park.
Man of the Match: Gavin Malin
Forfar Athletic: Hill, McCulloch, I Campbell, Faeroe, Tulloch (Robertson 79), Malin, Hilson (Kader 76), M Fotheringham (J Brown 76), Templeman, Swankie, Denholm.
Subs not used: King, Salmon (gk).
Booked: M Fotheringham, Tulloch.
East Fife: Antell, Durie, Sloan (Gormley 69), Malcolm (Jamieson 84), Muir, S Campbell, Barr, Willis, Samuel, Keenan, McBride.
Subs not used: McCormack, Smith, M Brown (gk).
Booked: S Campbell, Durie, Keenan.
Referee: Gary Hilland
Assistant Referees: Joseph Lawson, Mike Roncone