Cowden's End of Term Report
Play-off specialists Cowdenbeath take on Scottish Cup Quarter Finalists Brechin City in one of the four Play-off semi finals this week. A place awaits in Scotland's second tier for the Blue Brazil if they can see off City and then Forfar or Ayr. Boss Jimmy Nicholl watched play-off semi final opponents and possible final opponents respectively, Brechin City and Ayr United, on Saturday at Glebe Park as number 2 Colin Cameron took charge of Cowdenbeath at Dingwall against Ross County. Not surprisingly, Cowden failed to clinch the 11-0 win needed to overtake Jimmy Calderwood and Co at the bottom of the First Division table and the 3-0 defeat for the Fifers at Victoria Park confirmed Calderwood as escape specialist for the second season running after he saved Killie from the SPL drop this time last year. So, for the third year running the Blue Brazil are play-off bound with Brechin on Wednesday (Glebe Park) and Saturday (Central Park 2pm) their first crack at saving their second tier status over two legs. Ayr or Forfar will be their destination home and away should they see off the Wee City. Glebe Park hitman, and surely future SPL player, Rory McAllister is gunning for 'Beath after they beat Brechin in last season's play-off final for a Div 1 place and he could prove the blues main obstacle as they go about saving their place in a division where they have clearly punched above their weight. How former Man U star Nicholl would love to have McAllister on his books or on loan, a few of Cowden's important goals this term came from Rangars youngster and loan signing Archie Campbell who is now back at Ibrox. Greg Stewart has also added a few memorable strikes for the Blue Brazil but 'Beath's ability to score goals hasn't come close to an occasional neat passing game, plenty of fight in bigger games plus dogged defensive displays. Nicholl's men have had to cut their cloth accordingly in a division they have only played in twice in the last 20 years. Lady Luck doesn't feature strongly in Cowden's post war history and Ross County's last gasp winning goal at Falkirk two weeks ago as the Fifers were beating doomed Stirling more or less confirmed Cowden's play-off place. County could have been safe earlier but a 2-0 winning margin at Palmerston was halted by floodlight failure in the second half. Cowden officials feel Ross were let off the hook when the league game was replayed at Stirling and the less travelled Highlanders won 1-0 as Central Park prayed for a lucky break and a QotS win. Narrow defeats at the home of the eventual top two Dunfermline and Raith (2-1) could also be seen as games that were turning points in Cowden's campaign. Late equalising goals would have made a difference but seasoned supporters connected with the modest cousins of the Kingdom's trio of First Division teams never really expected more than a play-off place or a great escape in third bottom at best. Cowden fans will know relegation could see the Fifers go into freefall with a new ground still no closer and a fairly poor (if loyal) fan base doing their best to make the Blue Brazil's stay at the crumbling Central Park more comfortable. A recent fundraising drive saw pitch covers secured for next season. A long spell without a home game during the winter months could also be pointed to as the reason Cowden lacked consistency in this year's foray into the First Division. It is very hard for a team like Cowdenbeath to bounce back from a relegation. They are still a Third Division club in surroundings and support and although Jimmy Nicholl and Chairman Donald Findlay have fought to establish Cowden as a bigger noise on and off the pitch it could soon be back to the 200 or so die-hards that have made up the core of the Blue Brazil's support for the last decade or so cheering the side in Scotland's league basement. Victory for Cowdenbeath in a play-off final against Ayr or Forfar is as important for their long term existence as short term glory.
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