“Austin Powers East Fife to victory,” joked a comedy-loving away fan after watching his side come from behind to stun League One promotion-chasing Dunfermline for the second time this season.
Nathan Austin’s 80th-minute winner also boosted the visitors’ battle against relegation as they notched their first win in nine games dating back to January.
They were doubly indebted to Pars keeper Ryan Scully for spilling a routine high ball and to the match officials who failed to spot that Austin appeared to be offside when he pounced on Scully’s error and squeezed the ball in off the post.
“I was behind the keeper and I was offside, but I don’t know what the referee thought,” admitted Austin.
“I flicked it in with the outside of my foot and I expected to see the linesman’s flag go up, so I was delighted when it didn’t.”
Austin was only a second-half substitute when Ayr United scored five at Bayview last week, but he then caught manager Gary Naysmith’s eye by grabbing a hat-trick in Monday night’s reserve match against East Stirlingshire.
“We worked hard in training,” said Austin of the punishing regime brought in by Naysmith in response to the Ayr debacle. “We really let ourselves down last week, so this is a massive three points for us.”
Another defeat looked on the cards when Lawrence Shankland fired Dunfermline ahead midway through the first half, and it required a crucial goal-line clearance from Scott Durie to deny Andy Geggan and keep East Fife in the hunt.
“You’re never out of it at 1-0, and I thought we deserved it in the second half,” claimed Austin.
“That win has been a long time coming, but we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground and take it one step at a time.
“Nothing less than what we produced today is acceptable now.”
Another pivotal moment occurred early in the second half when the Methil club equalised with a spot-kick.
Former Pars striker Liam Buchanan was moving away from goal as he was rashly challenged by left-back Alex Whittle.
Buchanan expertly sent Scully the wrong way from the spot before East Fife completed the turnaround with Austin’s controversial late strike.
The visitors still had to endure six minutes of injury time but they survived to create a near-carbon copy of October’s 2-1 win at the same ground.
It was some way for Naysmith to treat his opposite number, home boss Jim Jefferies, who gave him his debut as a teenage full-back during Hearts’ Scottish Cup-winning season of 1998.
Nobody seriously expects second-placed Dunfermline to miss out on the promotion play-offs, yet Jefferies will be concerned that his players are flagging after losing three of their last four outings.
“We were pretty sloppy throughout the whole team,” admitted striker Ryan Wallace. “Nobody turned up today and that’s really unlike us.
“East Fife needed a big win to stay in the league, so we weren’t surprised by how well they played today. You can’t take anything away from them, they were more hungry than us.”
Bayview midfielder Stephen Hughes warned: “We’ve got to produce that same performance every week and try to win the next game at Forfar.”