Last minute blues as win slips

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A heavy pitch failed to provide the surface the Lichties needed to maintain their league lead at Gayfield on Saturday.

Scrapping from the start Arbroath and East Fife were well matched as they struggled against the elements and each other during the bitterly cold crusade.

Smarting from the previous 5-1 defeat, East Fife were out for a fight and put immediate pressure on the home side.

Arbroath refused to buckle and took control denying the Fifers any palpable chances.

Recent loan signing Liam Gordon from Hearts took a starting berth and the Tynecastle youngster was quick to make his presence known.

Twenty seven minutes in Simon Murray had fans dipping from the seats when he hit a cracking shot from outside the box, only to hit the woodwork.

Regaining his missing composure and showing the class that has earned him his Premier League place, he finished the job 10 minutes later, proving every ball is worth running for.

A pass-back from East Fife Liam Smith hit a ‘bobble’ and skipped backwards over ‘keeper Jordan Millar’s foot.

Murray scooped up the mistake and tapped it over the line to secure a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute.

Paul McManus tried to capitalise on the ‘keeper’s misfortune minutes later with a screamer from the left of the box but Millar redeemed himself gathering the shot into safe hands.

East Fife’s half-time pep talk sent them back onto the park re-energised but it was Arbroath who took the advantage with an early corner.

However, Millar continued to make up for his previous error denying an attempt by Bobby Linn in the 69th minute and the rebound from Paul McManus.

Disaster struck, when, with all the bodies in the Arbroath box, a corner by East Fife found its way to the line. The scramble allowed the home side to clear, but the visitors worked it back in with Allan Walker taking the glory for the draw.

Marc McCallum was adamant the ball hadn’t crossed the line but referee Steven Kirkland awarded the point.

With 10 minutes to go the Lichties maintained composure and kept the campaign going to the end but no amount of fight could tease out a win.

The draw and a Queen’s Park defeat means Arbroath FC are now tied at the top with Albion Rovers.

Manager Allan Moore couldn’t hide his disappointment. He said: “We’ve lost a goal from a set play again. I am disappointed that nobody has put their hand up to mark the man for the corner kick, It’s not about a blame but we’ve got to fix it and we can’t do that if nobody’s going to put their hand up to it. The conditions don’t suit our style of play and when that’s the case you’ve got to adjust and win games like that. I said to the boys ‘When’s the last time we had a clean sheet?’ Clean sheets win the league.”