With their long associations with mining and other industries that powered the Scottish economy for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, the towns of Bo’ness and Cowdenbeath have their fair share of similarities.
On the football side of things some might contend that, in terms of their prominence in the Junior game and crowd-pulling potential, Bo’ness United are also a club of at least equal stature to the Fifers. Despite the final scoreline suggesting a comfortable victory in the SFL’s side’s favour in this third round Scottish Cup tie at Newtown Park it is unlikely that the home supporters will be prepared to concede the argument.
Some debatable decisions by match referee Paul Robertson certainly did not work in the West Lothian side’s favour, with the sending off of winger Ryan Scanlon after only 22 minutes handing the Blue Brazil a huge advantage. In the closing stages a declined penalty appeal from United which was quickly followed by a soft award to the visitors simply rubbed salt in the wounds and made the outcome a good deal more emphatic than the balance of play had suggested.
As Paul Ronald, the Bo’ness manager diplomatically put it afterwards: “A few decisions didn’t go our way. But although we lost a poor first goal my players were outstanding, showed good discipline and were really brave. I just don’t know why we didn’t get a penalty in the second half.”
Bo’ness had certainly gone into this game showing no signs of an inferiority complex. They were holding their own quite comfortably in a cagey opening until Scanlon , who was actually making his debut for the Newtown Park side, suffered the ignominy of being ordered off with barely a quarter of the game having elapsed. The youngster had already been shown a yellow card for an innocuous looking bit of shirt tugging but then went into a challenge a short while later with his studs showing.
As well as its industrial heritage Bo’ness is notable for being the easternmost point on the Antonine Wall built by the Romans. Led by the calmly assured Scott Gibb, United’s rearguard proceeded to present a pretty formidable defensive obstacle of their own. It took Cowdenbeath some time to make their numerical advantage count in terms of goals.
Kal Naismith had gone close a couple of times, and Mark Ramsay had a shot cleared off the line, but it was not until the 37th minute that the visitors took the lead with Jon Robertson picking his spot with a well-directed header.
Even allowing for the general upward curve in their league standing in recent years, it must have been a long time since Cowdenbeath found themselves going into any cup-tie as the designated favourites. Yesterday the mantle of being expected to prevail didn’t always seem to sit convincingly on their shoulders and they endured some uneasy moments as United’s ten men opened the second half in spirited fashion. While the Fifers saw Naismith’s 30-yard free-kick crash off the crossbar they were relieved to witness Stewart Hunter hit a shot wildly over with their goal at his mercy and then Nicky Walker’s volley deflected by a last-ditch clearance.
A second goal which was similar to Cowden’s opener, Scott Linton heading home, settled the nerves and the knockout blow came when Walker appeared to be hauled to the ground in the penalty area by the Fifers’ Joe Mbu but, surprisingly, the referee shook his head. When Lewis Coult fell to the floor at the other end in similar fashion there was uproar as the official pointed to the spot. Coult took the kick himself and scored, whilst Hunter became the second Bo’ness player to see red for dissent.
“The most important thing is that we’re in the next round”, said the quietly satisfied Blue Brazil player-manager Colin Cameron, who was candid enough to admit that Bo’ness did not have the rub of the green.
Just like the troublesome Picts in the days of Antonine it was the visitors though who headed back north of the Forth with smiles on their faces.