In only his second game for the Fifers, Paterson, who has spent most of the last 12 years playing in America, fired a dipping volley from 25 yards beyond on-loan Rangers goalkeeper Liam Kelly to send the the visitors into the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
Smith said: “It’s a bit of quality that wins it. The boys defended brilliantly and threw themselves in front of things. We knew what we were getting when Nicki came, I’m not sure you’ll get it every week but we know what he’s capable of. Financially it’s massive for the club getting through to the next round.”
Former Motherwell trainee Paterson’s 27th-minute goal lit up an end-to-end first half. The playmaker struck a first-time effort into the corner of the net after captain Kevin Smith’s cross was only partially cleared.
The League One leaders did everything but equalise in the second half. East Fife goalkeeper Ryan Goodfellow pulled off a series of fine saves, while substitute Dale Carrick hit the bar and Danny Mullen had an effort cleared off the line.
“I thought it was only a matter of time before we scored after the break,” said Lions manager David Hopkin. “We’ve had four or five chances and hit the bar.”