Inside Central Park the fans could smell an upset and so could the players as one team was notably doing better than the other. And the Blue Brazil were perhaps lucky to not to have snatched a late equaliser as Hibs held on to a slender advantage of a single goal as the fans in the stadium done their bit to ensure the atmosphere was as electric as possible.
As soon the game kicked off, and after Bluebell the mascot for Cowdenbeath had worked the crowd up, a goal was scored by the home side within 15 seconds following poor defensive work from Hibs.
Colin Cameron played the ball to Greig Stewart and the ball bounced back off Sean O’Hanlon who in turn hit the ground on his backside presenting Stewart with an opportunity that he took with aplomb. From the edge of the area he curled a spectacular effort past the fingertips of Mark Brown in the Hibernian goals.
All the Hibs pre-match plans were seemingly out of the window as the in-form team pressed on and following a horrendous miss from 14 yards by Leigh Griffiths up one end Cowdenbeath could have had a second but from the edge of the area Linton fired over.
[media-credit name=”© Edinburgh Elite photography” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]Griffiths was however not wasteful for the equalising goal as Hibs took the reigns in the match. Cameron was dispossessed by Stevenson in the midfield and his pass found Griffiths who fired a magnificent drive in off the crossbar from 30 yards out. The goal from the on-loan Wolves youngster on 18 minutes was enough to give Hibs some dominance in a game that threatened to pile more pressure on the team.
Thomas Flynn in goals for Cowdenbeath pulled off a fantastic save from Eoin Doyle of Hibs, the striker dropped his shoulder and beat John Armstrong and curled his shot from just inside the area. However the keeper was equal to his effort.
Flynn again denied the striker but he was not to be denied his first Hibernian goal for much longer.
On 26 minutes Hibs had the lead and it was Doyle who scored the goal. Michael Hart burst forward and played the ball to the striker who seen his first effort stopped by the foot of Flynn and from a tight angle he bundled home the rebound.
From here Hibs looked stronger following the battering they received in the opening minutes of the game and they almost grabbed a third goal before half-time and they had two great chances to have done so.
Griffiths hit a 30 yard free-kick which dipped and almost caught out Flynn but the Cowdenbeath goalkeeper was equal to the effort and pushed it over the bar. Doyle almost added a goal as well as his close range header was cleared off the line by Kenny Adamson to keep the home side in touch going in to the half-time break inside the electric Central Park.
Hibs started the second half brightly and Sproule was released down the right channel. His industrious run ended with a teasing low ball that flashed across the 6 yard box with no green jerseys on hand to fire home.
Hibs though almost threw away the lead. The defence was caught out on their heels and a long ball was not dealt with properly. Stewart who had opened the scoring could not find the finishing touch again under pressure from Booth.
The third goal came in the 56th minute and gave the Hibees a seemingly unassailable lead. Danny Galbraith crossed the ball into the box and a deflection allowed David Wotherspoon to throw himself at the ball and score with a diving header to have his side in total control of the proceedings.
Or at least that is how it should have turned out.
A vicious onslaught on the visitors goal ensued and Cowdenbeath were unfortunate to have not scored when a tantalising ball was played across the box by Armstrong but Stewart and Coult could not apply finishing touches.
Coult fired an effort wide from 20 yards out and Ramsay also had a strike from the edge of the box which was saved by Mark Brown as the Blue Brazil looked for a way back into the tie.
They got it on 69 minutes. The impressive Jon Robertson fired in a goal of truly immaculate quality. Running onto a chipped pass the young winger audaciously flicked the ball over the Sean O’Hanlon and calmly volleyed the ball into the far corner in one sweeping movement. It was a goal of real quality and it provided Hibs with a real test as they had to hold on as the 2nd Division leaders were filled with even more confidence.
Coult released Robertson who made his way onto the edge of the Hibernian box but the confident youngster fired over from 18 yards as Hibs managed to survive the scare.
Booth made a surging run into the Cowdenbeath half in an attempt to restore the two goal cushion that Hibs needed to feel comfortable. His powerful cross was pushed away strongly by Flynn as Cowdenbeath launched another attack.
From the resultant attack Robertson should have scored, especially as the visitors defended nervously on the edge of their own box. The ball fell kindly for the midfielder, but he skewed the chance wide when faced with Brown guarding his near post.
Ramsay was guilty of missing another chance for the Miners as he was put under pressure from the desperate defending of Michael Hart.
As Cowdenbeath continued to press on they were spurred by their fans who were in turn inspired by the team mascot Bluebell and during these last few moments Hibs held perilously on as Ivan Sproule conceded a free-kick for a foul on the impressive Robertson.
The young midfielder dusted himself down and almost hit the target with the free-kick which was dangerously close to the top left corner.
And in the dying breaths of the game Cowdenbeath won a corner which prompted the involvement of Flynn. The ball was played in and following a brief moment of panic Brown finally managed to hold onto the ball as Hibs managed to see of the game.
It was a tense finale but the visitors can be pleased with the result but the Blue Brazil will be buoyed by the performance from their squad.
Colin Cameron the Cowdenbeath player-manager said after the game: “I think Pat will be a relieved man in there, but I wish them all the best in the competition. I’m disappointed that we are still not in the hat, I think we could have nicked a draw at the end.
“But I am proud of my players performances they’ve got loads of confidence from the way they’ve been performing in the league.
“Hopefully that performance will give them the added confidence as they came face to face with a premier league side and matched them.
“Even though we took the lead early on we still had 89 and a half minutes left. What I felt was that it was exactly the start that I wanted, to get them on the back foot as early as possible and try and turn the screw.
“We had opportunities in the end but we just fell short.”
Pat Fenlon believed that his side showed balls to hold on to the lead at the end of the game. He said: “I thought the players reacted really well because we knew it was going to be a tough game coming down here and the conditions weren’t great.
“To lose a goal after 15 seconds rams that home a little bit quicker. So, I thought we reacted really well to that.
“I’m happy we won, we made it hard for ourselves. We should have been more comfortable at half-time, but we dropped a bit, we got nervous, edgy.
“We got pinned-in and went deeper and deeper. People doubted their bottle and their mentality. Conditions were not in favour and the early goal only rams that home, but they stuck at it and showed their character.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be in the next round, that’s the important thing in the cup. Nobody remembers the performance in the next round, it’s just important that we’re through.”
Cowdenbeath: Flynn, Cowan, Adamson, Armstrong, Mbu, Cameron, McKenzie, Robertson, Ramsay,
Linton (Coult 56), Stewart.
Subs not used: Bejaoui, Brett, Winter, Milne.
Hibernian: Brown, Hart, Booth, Hanlon, O’Hanlon, Wotherspoon, Sproule, Stevenson, Galbraith
(Towell 80), Griffiths, Doyle (Sodje 88).
Subs not used: Grant, Stephens, Scott.
Ref: Bobby Madden