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Aberdeen 1 - 2 East Fife

HT Score: Aberdeen 1 - 1 East Fife

Scottish Cup Third Round Replay
Aberdeen scorers: Smith.

09/03/1938 | KO: 15:00




Aberdeen are out of the Cup, beaten by East Fife, a Second Division team, and at Pittodrie. Second Division team they may be, but East Fife were a better side than the Dons yesterday, and thoroughly deserved to enter round four. Who would have thought that history would repeat itself? Surely it is the strangest coincidences that in 1927 Aberdeen drew 1-1 at Methil and were beaten 2-1 at Pittodrie in the replay. There is no excuse for Aberdeen's downfall yesterday. They gave a puerile display. "Nerves" played no small part in their defeat, but imagine a First Division team being troubled by nerves on their own ground! From their play one could have been forgiven for thinking that they were the Second Division side. Every time the East Fife forwards were on the ball it spelt danger to the home goal. The same could not be said of the home attack. The Aberdeen forwards never settled down, and there was no comparison between their laboured attempts to make headway and the crisp, go-ahead methods of their opponents. Had they accepted two glorious opportunities that fell to them early in the game, East Fife would have finished with a more substantial margin than a 2-1 win. They were the superior team both in defence and in attack. It would certainly be difficult to single out a failure in the Methil team. This is not the case with the Aberdeen side. Here it was the successes that were in the minority Johnstone, Cooper, Nicholson, and Fraser, and the list is exhausted.


Nowhere was the disparity between the teams more obvious than in the manner in which they set about their task. East Fife had everything to gain and nothing to lose, and this was reflected in their play. They were a swashbuckling side, quick in defence and fast and mobile in attack. The Dons, on the other hand, seemed always to be aware of the responsibility of their task, and this affected their play. Gone was their smoothness in attack; gone was their team-work. In their approach work and finishing they were flustered and nervous. Once they lost the lead they were a badly rattled company. And what a chance they had. The first goal, which means so much in a Cup-tie. was theirs. Certainly they lost the lead under somewhat unfortunate circumstances, but until the last ten minutes of the game they never looked really dangerous. East Fife's equalising goal came from a penalty kick awarded against Mills for saving with his hands on the goalline. but previously it seemed that Johnstone had been illegally interfered with in attempting to cut out the cross.


The winning goal came one minute after the restart as the result of a freekick against Thomson, so that the Dons had ample time to draw level, if not win They just could not do it. It was East Fife's day. On the day's play the Dons were better served in defence than in attack, vet the defence was anything but faultless. Johnstone in goal had no chance with the balls that beat him, and more than once got his hands to tries that seemed likely to enter the net. Cooper vied with Tait for the honour of being the best back afield. He tackled soundly, but perhaps the best feature of his display was his clean kicking. The fact that Cowan was the weakest link in the Methil forward line speaks for the success of the right back. Aberdeen's left back problem seems still to be with them. Robey has not done much to solve it since his inclusion in the team. As at Methil, the former Aston Villa defender could not curb the activities of Adams, the East Fife's clever right winger. The fact that Thomson was below his best form must, however, be taken into account in criticising Robey's play. The left-half never got the measure of McLeod. Along with Cooper, Nicholson saved Aberdeen from a heavier defeat. He was here, there, and everywhere, clearing with head and feet, and in the closing stages he was forcing on the attack. Fraser was effective not brilliant, and got through a power of work in defence. Little that is good can be said of the forward line, individually or collectively. McKenzie was the only member the (inclusive). line who did anything of note. The inside right worked hard. Smith, his partner, took his goal brilliantly, but for the most part was well held by Tail. Strauss and Mills on the left were most unimpressive. The South African has seldom been seen to less advantage, while Mills had little to his credit. Armstrong worked wholeheartedly, but got little encouragement. Milton starred in the East Fife goal in the closing stages when the Dons made a desperate rally to secure the equaliser. Tait was a grand left back and capped a great performance at Methil with an equally fine one at Pittodrie.


The personality man of the Fife side yesterday, however, was Russell, the right half. He gave a wonderful display of half-back play. One minute he would be back breaking up Aberdeen attacks and the next he was urging on his forwards. Herd on the left, although not so prominent, did a lot of valuable work. Honours in attack went to Adams and McLeod. This pair were a constant source of danger to the home defence, and much of the credit for the Methil team's success could be laid at their door. In eleven minutes, Miller presented Cowan with a first-class chance, but the left winger banged the ball against Johnstone with the whole goal to shoot at. A minute later the home goal had another "life." Johnstone rushed from his charge to prevent McLeod shooting, and before he could return Adams fastened to send over an empty goal.


With nineteen minutes played Aberdeen went ahead, and a well-taken goal it was. McKenzie made ground before parting to Strauss. Smith came in from the wing to gather the South African's pass, escaped the attentions of both Tait and Sneddon, and sent into the net. This reverse served only to bring out the best in East Fife, and five minutes from the interval they drew level. Johnstone was hampered when he attempted to cut out a shot from Russell, and Mills, standing on the goal line, palmed the ball out. Herd took the resultant spot kick and made no mistake. The second period opened in sensational fashion. In their first breakaway East Fife took the lead. Adams was fouled by Thomson just outside the penalty area, and the right winger placed the free kick neatly for Miller to head into the net. Following this the exchanges were fast and keen, and the visitors seemed as likely to increase their lead as Aberdeen to equalise. Only in the closing stages did the Dons reveal fighting spirit. Then the East Fife defence showed their real worth, although luck was with them times. Nicholson, Armstrong and Fraser all had magnificent tries saved, but the Dons' effort had come too late.


Attendance - 25,499.
Receipts - £l490

Source: Press & Journal,

In August 2017, lifelong supporter, 99 year old Charles Bisset, wrote to AFC Heritage Trust and recalled that this was a game where the Dons wore Blue shirts. In those days the home team would change garb where colours clashed and since East Fife also were users of Black and Gold, Aberdeen changed to the reserve colour of Blue tops, still with white shorts. Charles told us that many in the Wednesday crowd were thrown by this as it was in the days before public address announcements and there was no programme. When the Black and Gold team scored there were many homesters cheered because they thought that it was Aberdeen had gained the advantage.
East Fife Teamsheet
Milton; Laird, Tait; Russell, Sneddon, Herd; Adams, McLeod, McCartney, Miller, Cowan.
Attendance: 25,499
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Mr. M. C. Hutton, Glasgow
Next Match
East Kilbride
20 Jul 2024 / 15:00 / K-Park Training Academy, East Kilbride