Scorers: East Fife - Brown (3); Stenhousemuir - Lithgow (61)
The Fifers – looking to gain promotion by replacing the Warriors in the third tier – made an encouraging start and took an early lead through Ross Brown. But Stenhousemuir’s perseverance paid off in the second half when Alan Lithgow rose high to deservedly bring Brown Ferguson’s side level. With home advantage in the second leg and an artificial pitch to factor in, the odds are likely to slightly favour Stenhousemuir.
Three minutes had elapsed when the Methil outfit took the lead. Warriors goalkeeper Greg Fleming blocked a close-range Nathan Austin shot but the rebound rolled outside the box and Brown’s first-time low drive crashed into the unguarded net with the aid of a slight deflation.
With the lead, the Fifers took up deep positions in their own half and that encouraged their guests to attack.
Stenny midfielder Bryan Hodge was first to threaten but a 25-yard free kick cleared the bar. Experienced striker Colin McMenamin – now at his 12th senior club – then powered a header just over in the 24th minute when he connected with an inviting delivery from Josh Watt.
After East Fife midfielder
Fraser Mullen had a first-time drive unconvincingly parried by Fleming, the visitors were denied an equaliser by a goal-saving block by Jonathan Page after a Ciaran Summers shot.
The impressive Watt then squandered another good chance for Stenhousemuir moments after the restart.
But the away side levelled in the 61st minute when Lithgow met Paul McMullan’s corner to glance a header into the far corner.
East Fife: Fleming, Mullen, S Smith, Walker, Brown, K Smith (Cook 82), Leyden (Riordan 74), Austin, Echaveguren, Dickson (L Smith), Page. Subs not used: Millar, Campbell, McLeer, Adeyemo.
Stenhousemuir: Fleming, Meechan, Summers, Lithgow, McMillan, Millar, McCormack, Hodge, McMenamin (Grehan 88), McMullan, Watt (Faulds 85). Subs not used: Shaw, Duncan, Marenghi, Moutinho, Sutherland.
Referee: E Anderson. Att: 679.