v Elgin City (02/05/15)
Watching Derek Riordan move around Bayview on Saturday must have been how Hibs’ fans in 1980 felt when George Best turned up at Easter Road – yes it’s nice to watch but surely there’s that nagging thought: how did we get here?
Playing off main striker Kevin Smith, Riordan spent much of the first half battling the elements – playing against a fierce south to north wind that made playing conditions far from ideal. If this is your summer football, you can pump it.
These conditions made it difficult to make an assessment of Riordan’s first half performance. His game has never been about hard-graft and tireless running. That was left to his strike partner, whilst Deek wandered the field.
In essence, Riordan is Scottish football’s equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat – in the sense that he exists out there on the pitch, but also doesn’t exist. When Elgin had possession Riordan was not to be seen, yet when East Fife took control of the ball, Riordan explodes into life. He becomes livelier than the thirty man brass band occupying the Forth side of Bayview’s one stand ground.
He still looks deadly from a dead ball, with Riordan taking free kicks and corners for the Fifers. But the point of Riordan’s game is so much of is unquantifiable. Sometimes writing about Riordan must be what it’s like to wrestle with smoke.
Riordan was never blessed with a great deal of pace, but it’s clear to see that is still struggling from match sharpness. That’s not surprising given he hasn’t played more than 10 games in a season since 2012. Football games that is. I’m sure he’s long mastered the art of executing the perfect drive-by during his many Grand Theft Auto marathons. However, he hasn’t lacked his precision. He was one of the few players on the park who was able to adapt to the conditions and rarely was his passing a victim of the whipping wind.
The three points were secured by Riordan when he scored East Fife’s third goal. Wilfully aided by poor decision making from Elgin’s goalkeeper and back four, Kevin Smith passed the ball across the box for Riordan to slot into the bottom corner to cap off his 100th league goal in Scotland.
Riordan will always remain one of Scottish football’s great ‘what ifs’ but he has an opportunity in the next few weeks to help secure East Fife promotion and add a satisfying coda to a career what stuttered more than succeeded.
Of that I am certain
The Football Critic
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