Brechin Cty manager Jim Weir warned his team cannot afford to take their play-off place for granted after going down 3-1 to East Fife in controversial circumstances at Glebe Park.
Livingston were crowned second division champions after second-placed Brechin went down to three East Fife goals that were all hotly disputed by the home side, who also felt aggrieved at Craig Molloy’s sending off and the decision not to give a goal when Daniel McKay’s late header appeared to cross the line.
Weir was unhappy with the attitude of some of his players urging them to buck up their ideas.
“I was disappointed with one or two players and I’ve let them know that,” he said. “I’m disappointed with their preparation. If they think the season’s just going to peter out and we’re going to manage to get in the play-offs the way we’re playing, I can tell them there’s still a big bit of work to do.
“I’ve got to give them a bit of credit because this is the first time we’ve lost two on the bounce this season.”
“I thought it was a clear handball leading up to the first goal and I didn’t think the linesman was in a position to give the second goal and they tell me the chance we had at the other end was well over the line.
“As for the sending off, if that was a booking it’s just as well I’ve stopped playing.”
Brechin started the match well, and Michael Brown got down to his right to hold Rory McAllister’s curling free-kick from just outside the box on six minutes.
Craig Molloy’s deflected shot fell to David McKenna in the six-yard box in the 10th minute but Brown did well to push the header past the post before Ewan Moyes fired just over with a fierce left-foot volley from the resulting corner.
Neil Janczyk’s low, curling free-kick from distance was pushed away by Brown on 25 minutes before East Fife took the lead against the run of play moments later.Handball protestMark McCulloch smashed a low, left-foot drive from outside the box into the bottom right-hand corner past Craig Nelson after good work on the right from Bobby Linn. The referee gave the goal despite Brechin protests about handball in the build-up.
East Fife almost increased their lead on 37 minutes when Young’s rasping low drive was pushed away by Nelson. Brechin went straight up the park and Molloy broke clear on the counter-attack but could only pull his shot wide of Brown’s right-hand post.
Neil Janczyk curled a left-foot free kick over the wall that was pushed away by Brown on 49 minutes before a decision completely changed the match.
McCulloch broke free on the left and fired in a shot which deflected off Andrew Cook. Nelson appeared to save the ball on the line but assistant referee Andy McWilliam indicated the ball was over.
Brechin got a goal back just after the hour mark when Neil Janczyk’s inswinging free-kick from the right was headed home by Ewan Moyes from close range.
On 70 minutes the home side were again incensed by the stand-side assistant referee, with Ryan Wallace looking in an offside position when he was played through on the break.
Wallace coolly dispatched his right-foot shot past the out-coming Nelson.
Brechin started to throw bodies forward and substitute Daniel McKay’s header appeared to cross the line on 78 minutes but the appeals were waved away by referee Finnie.
The home side’s misery was complete on 88 minutes when Craig Molloy, booked for complaining about the second East Fife goal, was ordered off for a second offence for a pull on Linn.
East Fife manager John Robertson thought his side deserved their win.
“When I arrived this was a team that was facing relegation but we’re sneaking up there,” he said. “If we keep working away, keep working hard, we’ve got a threat, that’s for sure.
“In terms of ability we’re as good as any team in the league but the thing that lets us down at times is our workrate and our concentration.
“We knew we’d have to play well to get anything from Brechin because they’re a good side.”