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Cowdenbeath 1 - 1 Morton: Morton find it’s tough at the top

Sam Stanton, left, races David OBrien to the ball. Picture: SNS

Sam Stanton, left, races David OBrien to the ball. Picture: SNS

  • by PAUL FORSYTH
 

JUST when it looked as though Morton had announced themselves as genuine promotion contenders, along come some of the First Division’s lesser lights to question their credentials.

SCORERS:

Cowdenbeath - Caddis 37

Morton - MacDonald 51

No sooner had the Greenock side gone top of the league with wins against Dunfermline Athletic and Partick Thistle than they were losing by three to Dumbarton. Yesterday, it was the turn of Cowdenbeath to show Allan Moore and his players that titles can be won and lost in the unlikeliest of locations. Although Morton’s Peter MacDonald cancelled out an opener by Liam Caddis, this was not the stuff of champions in waiting.

Dunfermline are now ahead of Morton on goal difference, while Partick are just two points behind with a couple of games in hand. “People underestimate teams in this league,” said Moore. “That was a harder game than we had against Thistle, a harder game than we had against Dunfermline. There are no easy games in this league. I think sometimes the players just read the name when they should be getting on with their job.”

Cowdenbeath had to weather sustained pressure for much of the game, but they did it well, and on reflection, created the better chances. Late shots by Kane Hemmings and Sam Stanton almost earned the Fife side maximum points, but that would have been hard on their visitors.

At a time of year when the big clubs farm out some of their squadmen, Cowdenbeath have taken full advantage. Hemmings, Stanton and Caddis, signed on loan from Rangers, Hibernian and St Johnstone respectively, were all flung straight into the starting line-up in a move that doubtless put a few noses out of joint.

And where better for a young player to learn about football’s earthier qualities than Central Park, home of the stock-car circuit, the corrugated iron roofs and the peeled terracing wall on which is painted an advert for www.bawbags.com? Stanton was given an early welcome when the clatter of a challenge by Scott Taggart echoed out across the old oval.

Caddis was soon floored by the same player, but the real value of the exercise for these youngsters is mental. Accustomed to the more hospitable surroundings provided by their permanent employers, do they have the appetite to prove themselves in front of 647 spectators, as they were asked to do here?

On this evidence, the answer is yes. Twice in the opening half hour, Hemmings threatened to score, first with a header, then with a shot that the goalkeeper scooped away for a corner. Soon, Caddis was after a piece of the action, trying his luck with an angled drive that Derek Gaston saved low to his left.

As it turned out, Caddis was only getting his eye in. A few minutes later, when a similar opportunity presented itself – thanks to a delicious ball over the top by Colin Cameron, Cowdenbeath’s player-manager – he barely had to break his stride before thumping a first-time shot into the bottom right-hand corner. If anything, it was Morton’s bottle that was being called into question. These, after all, are the kind of hurdles that must be overcome if a side are serious about promotion. The Greenock team started the game as league leaders, but here they were, toiling once more against modest opposition.

They had only a David O’Brien shot, parried by the goalkeeper, to show for their first-half efforts, but mercifully for Moore, they flew out of the traps after the interval. In a sustained assault on the Cowdenbeath goal, Tony Wallace’s cross came back off the bar, and MacDonald seized the equaliser by crashing in a volley at the back post.

Although Caddis nearly snatched a second, blazing over after Hemmings’ lay-off, much of Cowdenbeath’s work was in their own half. There, the objective was to keep Morton at arm’s length, but they rode their luck at times. Peter Weatherson had a clear sight of goal when Kyle Wilkie cut it back, but the shot was too high. Then, Michael Tidser’s cross picked out Kevin Rutkiewicz at the far post, but the defender’s meaty header came back off the goalkeeper.

Cowdenbeath are without a league win since 1 September, but they have drawn their last four. “We will soon be turning those into victories,” said Cameron, who knows that, if they keep playing like this, they can aim for more than just survival.

Cowdenbeath: Flynn, Cowan, Armstrong, Mbu, Adamson (Coult 76), Brett, O’Brien, Cameron (Linton 57), Stanton, Hemmings, Caddis.

Morton Gaston, Taggart, Rutkiewicz, Reid, Dyer, Wallace (Wilkie 71), Bachirou, Tidser, O’Brien (Halsman 77), Weatherson (Hawke 89), MacDonald.

Referee: M Tumilty. Attendance: 647.

 

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