Cowdenbeath 4 Dunfermline Athletic 2Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Wednesday, 13th Feb 2013
Dunfermline don’t lose at Cowdenbeath terribly often - the last time coincided with one hit wonders the Floaters topping the charts with “Float on” back in August 1977. It’s also more than 60 years since the Blue Brazil scored 4 against the Pars in a league match, which probably pre-dates their nickname (although they did manage to knock 4 past Jim Herriot in the Spring Cup in 1976), so those 1330 souls who ventured out witnessed something special (even if for some it didn’t feel that way). Remarkably, the Pars were looking like unlikely winners after Dowie and Kirk had scored midway through the second half, but 3 long-range strikes in 10 minutes saw the home team as deserved victors.
After a relative dearth of trips to Cowdenbeath, recent history has given several opportunities to see more showings of the old derby. Two years ago to the day, the Pars won 4-0, with new signings Rutkiewicz, Buchanan and Hardie (remember them?) all impressing. Of course, that was a Saturday game; for some reason, the powers that be had decided to play this rearranged fixture on a freezing cold February night, in opposition to a televised Champions League fixture at Celtic Park. Negotiating the rush hour proved much easier than anticipated so for once I was able to park close by the ground in Chapel Street, indeed it was harder to find my way across the park in near pitch darkness to the away entrance, and I was virtually the first paying spectator in the ground, so plenty time to enjoy what the French call a “burger de cheval” and a coffee – good value at £3 in total.
The Pars had played well on Saturday, so it was no surprise that Jim Jefferies named a virtually unchanged team. Jordan was out injured so McMillan moved across the back four, with Ross Millen making his 3rd appearance at right back. Once again, Morris and Dowie swapped berths to allow the youngster the protection of Morris’s greater pace. Falkingham, Kane and Byrne started in a central position, with Cardle to their left, and Wallace was more advanced on the right, although that didn’t last for long. Kirk, after breaking his fast of goals would be the pinnacle of the attack. Potter joined the bench as defensive cover, with Whittle, Dargo, Thomson and Hrivnak the other substitute options.
The Pars kicked off, and both sides had half-chances in the early exchanges. A fine Falkingham ball sent Wallace down the right and as he hit the byeline he cut back to Byrne, but the youngster’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked. At the other end a couple of needless corners were conceded and from one Robertson lost his marker and should have scored with a free header. Soon after Dowie mistimed his challenge and Hemmings set Coult away with a neat flick, but Kane got back with a saving tackle.
Kirk had a header narrowly over the top in 16 minutes, but came closer to scoring at the other end, when he stuck out a leg to deflect an otherwise woeful Stevenson free-kick, which narrowly sped past Gallacher’s left hand post with the keeper totally committed in the wrong direction.
The narrow pitch meant play was congested, players were constantly in about each other and referee Somers was frequently stopping play for minor infringements. The long throw was also an attacking option, and the giant Coult headed over midway through the half from such a tactic.
Byrne took a bad knock, eventually requiring a stretcher, which was slow to arrive, and Ryan Thomson joined the action, immediately making a driving run to find Cardle on the left, who for the first time in the match found a dangerous cross, but keeper Flynn fisted away and the danger was cleared.
That was the end of the Pars as an attacking force for the half – and soon Cowden scored a goal from very little – there appeared to be a bit of fouling in the box when Stevenson crossed from the right, but nothing was given, and when the ball was only half-headed clear Milne drilled the ball home from the edge of the box. 1-0.
The Pars goal came under real pressure for the rest of the half –a succession of corners was barely dealt with and Gallacher saved point blank from a Robertson header. For a game that had seemed to be heading for the interval goal-less, the Blue Brazil were a little unlucky to be only one up at the break.
Half time: Cowden 1 Pars 0
The frustrations had already been evident with Kane and Coult being booked for a bout of post-whistle handbags at half-time and the second half started with more of the same – even the radical tactic of starting Cardle on the right and moving Falkingham to the left failed to spark the Pars to life. Coult miskicked an early chance from a cross and Gallacher made another good stop, this time from O’Brien after a corner.