In deep trouble!

WELL DONE: Forfar's Kevin Byers gets the congratulations after his close-in strike to reduce the lee-way in the home match against East Fife on Saturday'Picture by Chris Coutts, Forfar.
WELL DONE: Forfar's Kevin Byers gets the congratulations after his close-in strike to reduce the lee-way in the home match against East Fife on Saturday'Picture by Chris Coutts, Forfar.

IF they didn’t know it before, they know now! (writes Alan Ducat).

Truth is, Forfar Athletic face an uphill battle to stay in the Scottish second division over the course of the next four weeks.

The Loons were never at the races at home to East Fife, slumping to a four-one defeat.

That, coupled with Stirling Albion’s win at Brechin City and Albion Rovers’ home draw against Dumbarton means that there is little between the bottom three as the season enters its final month.

And, the games don’t come easy for the Loons.

They face Arbroath at Gayfield this coming Saturday, and then travel to take on a Cowdenbeath side with one eye on the title.

Then comes that all-important home match against Albion Rovers before the curtain comes down on the campaign at Stenhousemuir.

Come then, there may be an extension to the season for the Loons as they battle to retain their second division status.

And, if Saturday’s home display serves as a yardstick then Forfar could very well be in a play-off or, worse still, be automatically relegated.

Loons boss Dick Camnpbell pulled no punches at the end of a sorry Saturday afternoon.

And Campbell said: “I’m embarrassed by that. We had bottom of the league written all over us.

“We are well aware we are deep in relegation trouble.

“We did not look like we were up for the fight and need to turn that around.

“We lost some bad goals, but, just as worrying for me is the fact that we didn’t create very much. The East Fife goalkeeper didn’t have a save to make all afternoon.”

This was a match Forfar really needed to win if they were to pull clear of the relegation zone with something to spare.

But they were on the back foot from the first whistle, and it took two good stops from goalkeeper Greg Paterson to deny East Fife hot-shot Ryan Wallace.

The second save, in particular, was a blinder, getting both hands to a piledriver hit on the angle.

Forfar tried to hit back, but they were soon pinned back again and the Fifers deservedly took the lead in the 15th minute.

The home defence was badly caught out when former Brechiner Neil Janzyzk sent Scott Dalziel racing through on goal, the striker picking his moment to fire past the on-rushing Paterson into the corner of the net.

Worse was to follow two minutes later, when the home side were caught napping at a corner-kick.

The ball was played back to Jancyzk, who, in acres of space on the left, had plenty of time to pinpoint his cross for Ryan Wallace to head wide of the keeper and high into the net.

Forfar came more into the game for a spell thereafter, and, shortly after Chris Templeman had blasted high and wide from good position, midfielder Kevin Byers gave the home side some hope with a simple tap home after a throw-in on the left saw the ball somehow break kindly for him in front of goal.

That was how things stood at half-time, and the Loons really need to strike first after the break if they’re to have any hope of salvaging a result.

Alas, it was game over eight minutes into the second period, when an awful blunder by Kevin Motion allowed the visitors a sniff at goal.

The Forfar man dallied too long on the ball deep in his own half and was dispossessed.

East Fife took full advantage, Ryan Wallace fastening on to a Darren Smith pass before firing his side into a three-one lead.

The Forfar boss rang the changes thereafter in a bid to get back into the game, with Hegarty, Ross Campbell and Coyne replacing Motion, Byers and Ross, but it was to no avail.

Indeed, it was a case of Forfar trying to keep the end score-line respectable, and this, to a degree, they did, although East Fife grabbed a fourth right on time.

Substitute Craig Johnstone set up Scott Dalziel, who found himself in oodles of space and with all the time in the world to tee up a cracking drive which beat Paterson all ends up.

Thankfully, for the home side, referee Frank McDermott, whose display was much on a par with that of the home side, brought Forfar’s misery to an end by blowing the final whistle.

Forfar Athletic - Paterson, McCulloch, Shaughnessy, Iain Campbell, Ross (Coyne), Bolocheweckyj, Byers (Ross Campbell), Fotheringham, Motion (Hegarty), Templeman and Hilson.

East Fife - Michael Brown, Durie, McCormack, Campbell, Ovenstone, Linn (Johnstone), Darren Smith (Muir), Janczyk, Robert Sloan (Hislop), Dalziel and Wallace.

Crowd - 559.