Rangers travel to the Kingdom of Fife tonight to face an East Fife team who've had some inconsistent form in League two, with 11 points out of 27 and currently sit in mid-table 5th place.
Rangers have played East Fife five times over the last two years, winning all five and not conceding a goal. It’s fair to say that I want to see the back of East Fife for a while yet.
I have always had a soft spot for the Fifers, as my great uncle played in the famous 1938 team that won the Scottish Cup, beating Kilmarnock 4-2 in a replay after a 1-1 draw, the only second division team to achieve this feat.
My grandfather was in the 92,000 crowd and returned to Fife with the Fife miners to join in the celebrations.
Undoubtedly, East Fife’s best spell came in the immediate post war period, winning three Scottish League cups in 1947/48, 1949/50 and 1953/54 with two former Gers players as manager.
The first two were under manager Scot Symon and the third was with Jerry Dawson in Charge. Another Scottish Cup final appearance in 1950 resulted in a 3-0 win for Rangers.
Scottish Cup Final 1950
Sadly for the Fifers, in 1958 they were relegated to the Scottish Second division after a ten year spell in the top league and have spent most of the following years in the lower divisions.
In 1971 they returned to the top flight and in season 1973/74, beat Rangers at Ibrox 1-0, although this did not stop them being relegated again at the end of the season.
It was during this period that crowds began to dwindle from an average of 3,000 in 1970 to just 500 in 1979 and the Fifers have remained in the lower divisions ever since.
While the real business at hand is promotion, the Challenge Cup has been a distraction for the management, the players and the fans alike. It has also been an embarrassment to Rangers for the past two years, who should have had a squad good enough to win it by now.
The fringe players and players returning from injury should really be good enough to win the game, however with McCoist coming under increasing pressure, he will revert to his strongest eleven (probaly citing East Fife are due the upmost respect).
East Fife will be organised and will sit tight behind the ball and make things difficult for Rangers. With our inability to break down a defence at times and another artificial pitch to contend with, it could turn into another turgid game. I hope I’m wrong.
The winners face Alloa in the semi final and Livingston await the winners of both games in the final, which will probably be at Hampden should Rangers progress that far.
My prediction is a 2-0 victory for the Gers and a probable starting XI of:
Simonsen; Foster, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace; Aird, Black, Law, Macleod; Boyd, Miller.
Head to Head:
Rangers wins: 39
East Fife wins: 6
Please feel free to comment below or on the forum thread for Little General's match preview here - http://www.gersnetonline.co.uk/vb/showthread.php?66367-East-Fife-V-Rangers-Match-Prevew