Any fans whose coupons were burst by the turgid affair at Central Park will no doubt be kicking themselves, with the 1-1 draw looking a foregone conclusion in hindsight. Cowdenbeath have drawn 1-apiece no less than seven times this season, and on the day neither team showed the initiative worthy of taking home three points.
The Rovers played the first half almost without their midfield touching the ball as the defence seemed intent on playing long speculative balls up to Graham and Clarke, and Walker, Hamill and Stuart Anderson once again failed to assert themselves. The Blue Brazil were responsible for what little good play there was, and seemed more keen than the visitors to get the ball down and play incisive football. The home side were enjoying success down both flanks, with dangerous looking wingers cutting inside to feed their forwards. Were it not for a lack of striking prowess in the Cowden ranks, and stand-out performances from Simon Mensing and the heroic Laurie Ellis, the Rovers might have found themselves going in at half-time facing a deficit.
Whatever the Gaffer had to say in the dressing room clearly had an effect as the Rovers started better in the second half, bringing the mercurial Grant Anderson more into the game, with Jason Thomson also effective on the overlap. After a promising Rovers break resulted in a corner, it was the ever-present Graham who rose highest to meet Walker’s delivery and take the lead, showing good strength and ability in the air, a part of his game for which he is sometimes criticised.
Shortly afterwards the Rovers were denied a stonewall penalty as a Cowdenbeath defender went down in his own box under pressure from Brian Graham. Although no foul was given, the sprawling defender reached out and clawed the ball back under his body to deny the Rovers talisman a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
While the referee might claim he was unsighted, the stand-side linesman had a better view than any fan, and yet chose to keep schtum.
A more energetic second half saw the convincing chances fall to the Rovers, despite the home side continuing to enjoy the better passages of play. The Rovers had Mensing, Ellis and the infallible David McGurn to thank for keeping them ahead as again and again, simple but effective passing combinations allowed the home side to swan through midfield without challenge. Matters were not improved 15 minutes before the end when the invisible midfield were weakened further, as Joe Hamill gave way for Greig Spence. Had the youngster come on and scored, putting the game out of sight, no one would have complained and we would be praising the manager for his desire to win. As it happened, the gamble did not pay off and the already invisible midfield caved entirely, with Cowden enjoying the run of the park.
The Rovers fans are by now familiar with the script: good individual performances give the Rovers an edge, but an inability to control the game prevents them seeing out narrow victories and allows the opposition back into the game.
A 1-2 lay-off straight from the training ground put Cowden through down the left-wing 3 times in quick succession. However, the Rovers failed to learn a lesson and on 81 minutes Cowden worked the ball across from the left flank which the, so far faultless, defence failed to deal with, and the substitute Greg Stewart was able to smash the rebound home from close range.
Livingston’s draw with Hamilton prevented them opening up a gap to 5th –placed Falkirk, but Pressley’s men’s victory at Dumbarton means they are now 7 clear of us.
Another failure to back up individual ability with a winning philosophy means the pressure is now on us to win our 2 games in hand, if we are to stay in touch, and challenge for a place in the top half of the table.