SPFL Play Off Final COWDENBEATH 1 DUNFERMLINE 1 : Date 14/05/14
The Cowdenbeath manager, Jimmy Nicholl is well known to Pars fans and his team appear to have hit form just before it was too late. For the visit of their neighbours Cowden went with the same eleven that started against Ayr United on Saturday.
Despite expressing a view that to succeed over the four play off games in the space of 15 days it is better to freshen up his team,Jim Jefferies couldn't resist the temptation to go with the same team that turned the heat up on Stranraer so ably. The only change on either side was Jonathan Page on the Pars bench at the expense of Lewis Spence.
The Pars kicked off attacking the goal at the west end of the ground where the travelling support filled most of the terracing. Early long throws from Danny Grainger created danger in the Cowden box but the Blue Brazil dealt with those. Kane Hemmings caused the first threat on the left side of the Pars box but having posed Lewis Martin a problem Ryan Williamson cleared.
In seven minutes a long throw in by Rory McKeown was fisted out by Ryan Scully but only to John Armstrong but fortunately the big central defender was slow to react and his chance was gone. Faissal El Bakhtaoui was shown yellow for his challenge on McKeown and then Josh Falkingham required treatment after going in too hard on a challenge on the halfway line.
A Cowdenbeath corner in 14th minute allowed Darren Brownlie to get a header in that cleared the bar but the home side kept up the pressure on the Pars goal with yet another long throw from McKeown. Thomson almost cashed in when there was a slip up in the home defence but he failed to get in the shot as he reached the penalty box.
A strong run inside by Williamson then picked out Whittle on the left but his attempt to get round the Cowden defence earned only another throw in that the defence dealt with. Midway through the half a Thomas O'Brien throw in was nodded on by Nat Wedderburn but Scully didn't take it and was fortunate when Hemmings failed to smash the ball past him.
Play flowed from end to end with Husband's pass into the box cut out and at the other end Scully holding when Hemmings hit the ball too far ahead of himself. Another McKeown long throw in on the half hour handed Cowden an opportunity and it was precarious as the ball pinballed around the Pars area.
The Pars fans rallied after Whittle's ball across from the left was headed back across the goal from the far post but Thomson just couldn't get his head to the chance. Another good opportunity came immediately after that when Geggan drove forward and laid the ball into the path of El Bakhtaoui but the striker hit his effort into the right sidenetting.
Two minutes from the interval a Williamson cross picked out Thomson but the pace beat him and his header could not be directed on target. Then Hemmings on the break from Dunfermline's first corner of the game went through one on one with Scully but the Pars keeper pulled off a great save to thwart the best chance of the game so far.
The best chances of the half came right at the end but this was a Fife Derby that was being played like a cup final. At the halfway stage in the first 90 then it was all square.
Cowdenbeath 0 Dunfermline 0
Young was yellow carded within the first minute of the restart for tugging back Hemmings when it looked as though the Cowden striker was going to get through on Scully. He was fortunate that Martin was covering in behind him or else referee Stephen Finnie might have been reaching for his red. Then Hemmings might have had a card after going down rather easily under a challenge from Grainger.
Ten minutes into the second 45 Young was up to launch a long throw in from the right. That was defended but Young got another chance and drilled a shot but unfortunately off target. Allan Smith replaced Faissal El Bakhtaoui in 58 minutes before Husband fought to deliver a cross from the right byeline. He failed and then Jefferies made another change that meant Ross Forbes replaced him.
Dunfermline had certainly enjoyed the better of the opening twenty minutes of the second period but lived dangerously when Hemmings sent the ball towards Stewart but thankfully Grainger did well to mop up. Then Young slowed class to deny Hemmings. A Grainger throw in made life hard again for keeper Thomas Flynn but Forbes follow up was blocked.
A Pars corner in 73 minutes was pumped to the back post by Grainger but Geggan just couldn't convert in the challenge. Next minute Williamson was happy to concede a corner after a swift driving run from Lewis Milne took Cowdenbeath back to the other end.
The breakthrough that the Pars had been threatening came in 76 minutes. Yet another long throw to try and take advantage of the narrow pitch and this time Grainger's lob was turned in by Andy GEGGAN. 0-1
Callum Morris replaced Thomson and was to play upfront. He was unlucky with a header on a Scully clearance but the Pars had conceded an equaliser when a McKeown throw in was headed past Scully by O'BRIEN with seven minutes remaining.
In 86 a McKeown throw was yet again met by the head of O'Brien but this time Scully saved. No more goals so it all starts level again on Sunday afternoon at East End Park.
This was not the most exciting of games, most of the goalmouth incidents were created from long throws and really as a football match it was dull. The same will not be levelled at Sunday's meeting. Both sides have only 90 minutes, and maybe extra time and penalties, to secure the right to play in a league with Rangers, Hearts, Raith Rovers and maybe Falkirk. Sunday will be very different.
COWDENBEATH: Thomas Flynn; Darren Brownlie, John Armstrong, Nat Wedderburn; Dean Brett, Jon Robertson, Thomas O'Brien, Lewis Milne, Rory McKeown; Greg Stewart, Kane Hemmings
SUBS NOT USED: Jamie Stevenson, David Gold, Kenny Adamson, Chris Kane, Jordan Morton, Kyle Miller, Seb Usai (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Stewart (36), Hemmings (62), Robertson (79)
SCORER: O'Brien (83)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Lewis Martin, Kerr Young, Danny Grainger; Ryan Williamson, Josh Falkingham, Andy Geggan (c), Alex Whittle; Stephen Husband (Ross Forbes 63); Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Allan Smith 58), Ryan Thomson (Callum Morris 82).
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Goodfellow (GK), Ross Millen, Shaun Byrne, Jonathan Page.
YELLOW CARD: El Bakhtaoui (7), Husband (42), Young (46)
SCORER: Geggan (76)
REFEREE: Stephen Finnie
WEATHER: Changeable 13C
ATTENDANCE: 3379 (inc 2546 Pars fans)
NEXT MATCH: (home) SPFL Championship Final second leg v Cowdenbeath
Sunday 18th May 2014, kick off 4.05pm.
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