IT TOOK 16 days for the encounter to finally take place, but at the fifth time of asking St Johnstone breezed in to the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup with a 3-0 win.
St Johnstone - McCracken (52), MacLean (76pen), Tade (87)
With the match having succumbed to the weather four times, the big freeze in Fife finally relented over the weekend and it was the Perth side who took advantage of the relatively amiable conditions to book a place in the last 16 against St Mirren.
The hosts were dogged, but ultimately tired in the second period, shipping goals to David McCracken, Steven MacLean and Gregory Tade.
Cowdenbeath have struggled to find anywhere to train in the last three weeks amid the Fife freeze. Yet, due to the rescheduling of this tie, they were playing their second match against a full-time side in the space of three days – having lost at Falkirk on league business at the weekend. So it was little surprise to see St Johnstone begin the encounter in rather more spritely fashion than their First Division foes. Within ten minutes Cowdenbeath goalkeeper Thomas Flynn was forced into a save from a David Mackay free-kick. Murray Davidson, linked with a move to Rangers in recent days, was next to threaten, fizzing a half-volley over the bar from 20 yards.
Despite enjoying precious little of the play, Cowdenbeath almost claimed the lead on the half-hour mark. The towering figure of Lewis Coult nodded down a long ball for Kyle Miller, who fed a nicely weighted pass to Dean Brett. However, his shot from the edge of the box curled agonisingly wide.
In response, St Johnstone came within a lick of paint of breaking the deadlock. Craig was allowed space 25 yards from goal and his excellent swerving effort rattled the upright with Flynn beaten.
With half-time approaching, a shot from 30 yards by Cowdenbeath winger Lewis Milne forced a stunning save from Alan Mannus, who clawed the ball away from the top-corner.
St Johnstone flew out of the traps in the second half, with Gregory Tade powering a shot just past the post within minutes before, on 52 minutes the finally broke the home side’s resistance.
Steven Anderson rose highest to force a marvellous Flynn save from a Craig corner before the ball was hacked off the line. However, it was only cleared as far as McCracken, whose shot trickled into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Both sides traded chances as heavy legs became apparent – St Johnstone were also in action on Saturday – with Anderson heading over the bar when it seemed easier to score, before Kyle Miller dragged a low shot just wide.
Craig Beattie was brought on for his first appearance since October and his impact was immediate, slotting a through-pass for MacLean, who fell under challenge of Flynn. Despite the goalkeeper appearing to make contact with the ball, referee John Beaton awarded a penalty and MacLean made the game safe.
Cowdenbeath: Flynn; Cowan, Armstrong, Mbu (Cameron 64), Adamson; Brett, Miller (Navas 73), O’Brien, Milne, McKenzie; Coult (Thomas 81). Subs not used: Wight, Ramsay, Navas.
St Johnstone: Mannus; Mackay, Anderson, McCracken, Scobbie; Hasselbaink (Beattie 69), M Davidson, Millar (Cregg 84), Craig; MacLean (Caddis 78), Tade. Subs not used: Tuffey, Rodger.