A commanding 3-0 win over ten-man Cowdenbeath puts the Lowland League champions in pole position to cement promotion to the SPFL for the first time and bring an end to the Fifers’ 117-year history in the national senior leagues.
Sean Brown’s scrambled opener, a Neil Martyniuk penalty and a header by former Blue Brazil defender Dean Brett in front of 2,202 fans at a sold-out New Dundas Park mean Cowdenbeath have it all to do in the second leg at Central Park next week.
Ross believes two key decisions by referee Grant Irvine changed the game. The first was a second yellow card shown to left back Harvey Swann following a challenge on Brett right in front of the dugouts after half an hour when the game was scoreless and finely balanced. The second was the controversial penalty awarded a minute before half time which gave Rose a 2-0 lead.
“My overriding emotion is that I feel mugged,” said Ross. “How can you get sent off when you win the ball? He gets the ball first. It’s not high. It’s not rash. It’s a 50-50 challenge which he wins and the guy makes a meal of it.
“The penalty? I though it was a free-kick to us. If that’s a penalty, there’s 20 penalties every week. The game is done then. All credit to them, but they got a massive helping hand with those two decisions.”
Horn had some sympathy with his counterpart, but not too much.
“It was probably a soft penalty,” he admitted. “But I thought it was a sending off. He’s lunged in three times and he’d been booked already. It was a bit crazy.
He added: “After the sending off I thought we were well in control. We’ve put ourselves in a very good position. I thought it was solid performance. I didn’t think it was brilliant football, but we matched them all over the park.
“They put out a strong side and I though we matched them physically. I thought we were the team in the ascendency.
“We know it is not done. There will be no complacency from us. The coaching staff won’t allow it. We know what’s at stake.”