City started the weekend knowing a win was vital as they continue to challenge for the title, remaining 8 points behind Cove Rangers prior to their trip over the bridges. The game was largely free-flowing and open despite the conditions of the pitch as Scotland continues to be hit with storms. Both sides created chances a plenty and will both feel that a draw was a fair result.
A half of missed opportunities
The home side were almost in front early on as City were caught napping at the back. Robbie Buchanan broke down the left of the box before clipping the ball into Kieron Renton who saw his flying header crash against the bar. Buchanan was involved again not long later as he was left completely unmarked when a cross came in from the right. As the ball fell for the midfielder, he attempted to strike it on the volley but miskewed his effort and was comfortably dealt with by Kelby Mason.
Safe to say City struggled to find their usual footballing rhythm due to the surface of the pitch at the Central Park Stadium. It wasn’t until the 20th minute when they found their first real sight of goal. Captain Thomson had whipped in a ball to the Cowdenbeath box which was headed clear but only as far as Marc Laird who came running at the ball before lashing a volley into the ground. As everyone stood still to watch, the ball bounced narrowly wide of the post.
The game was hugely exciting as play went from end to end and it looked as if City would break the deadlock after half an hour. Thomson’s corner was met again by Marc Laird who found himself alone on the edge of the 6-yard box. Those watching will have wondered how their had still not been a goal as the midfielder’s effort went wide of the post. However, they were delighted just minutes later when Renton had an easy tap-in at the back post. David Cox had been sent running down the left and used clever footwork and stepovers to get past Conrad Balatoni before laying it on a plate for the forward.
Half time: Cowdenbeath 1 – 0 Edinburgh City
Saved by a miracle
The game continued in its end to end fashion and it was Cowdenbeath who almost doubled their advantage 10 minutes into the second half, but for Mason’s heroics in the Edinburgh goal. The ball was floated in by Kyle Miller and was brought under control by Robbie Buchanan whose close-range effort was saved brilliantly by the chest of Mason. When the ball broke back into the box, Buchanan had another chance to redeem himself but was denied once more with a diving save from City’s no.21.
Mason and his defence were again called into action 5 minutes later. David Cox broke down the left before sliding a ball across the City penalty area. Somehow, it alluded every Cowdenbeath attacker before coming through Craig Barr, however the defender wasn’t used to being presented with such an opportunity and his toe-poked effort was blocked by Liam Henderson. Throughout the game it seemed as if every ball broke to a Cowdenbeath player, everyone watching as Jamie Pyper came rushing in to sidefoot an effort that was fantastically blocked on the line by Edinburgh’s central midfielder Marc Laird.
Despite dominating possession, City struggled to create as much in attack as they had in the first half. It wasn’t until the 80th minute that McDonaugh’s men were able to find a deserved, though bizarre, equaliser. When a long ball was headed out of the Cowdenbeath penalty area, Marc Laird brought it under control at the corner of the box. After keeping the ball close to him with defenders around, he dug out a looping left-footed effort that curled high in the sky and over Joshua Rae in the Cowdenbeath goal. The home side were perplexed but there was delight among the City players as they celebrated a much-needed goal.
Only minutes later, Edinburgh thought they had completed a quickfire double and stole the game. Thomson launched a long throw-in from the right which was headed out by the Cowdenbeath defence. As it fell out of the sky to the edge of the box, midfielder Danny Handling caught it as sweet as you like on the volley. His stunning effort required an equally stunning save from Rae to tip it over the bar.
City threw everything they could at their opponents to try and maintain their pursuit of Cove Rangers, however it wasn’t to be. Cowdenbeath defended resolutely and the game finished level, a result which accurately portrayed the balance of play and chances created.
Full time: Cowdenbeath 1 – 1 Edinburgh City
‘We showed good character’
After last week’s disappointment at home to Brechin, McDonaugh was full of praise for the way his players bounced back and felt that they deserved more from the game in Fife: ‘We’re disappointed not to get all 3 points today, especially with all the possession and territory we had in the second half. We had a good reaction in the second half, I thought we showed good character, I thought we did well to get back into the game and probably could’ve won it in the end.’
Citing the state of the pitch, McDonaugh was not making any excuses for his side: ‘The pitch was really difficult and heavy for both teams. We know what it’s like here, it’s not an excuse, you have to adapt to the conditions.’
Adapting to the conditions was necessary and upon reflection it didn’t affect the flow of the game as much as one would expect. The game was exciting and to come away with a point was a fair result. McDonaugh noted: ‘The players are disappointed which is good, of course we want to win but they’ve shown a bit about them today.’ He will be looking towards back to back home matches now for City against Albion Rovers and Stenhousemuir, hoping that results go their way and the 10 point difference that has now opened up at the top of the table can be clawed back.
Next Match: Saturday 7th March – Albion Rovers (H) – 15:00 KO
Written by Miles Lockhart