Cowdenbeath U20 3-1 East Stirling U20
Cowdenbeath: Hunter, Watt, Trialist, George, Leslie, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Muirhead, Johnstone, Swann.
Subs: Donoghue, Mitchell, Trialist, Digpal, Graham, Wilson
East Stirling: Fairbanks, Crawford, Buist, Deans, Mcardle, Grant, Murray, White, Shand, Reynolds, Peddie.
Subs: Dolan, Cumming, Rodger, Allison
Both sides went into this final Development League East fixture off the back of disappointing seasons. Cowdenbeath sitting 6th in the league, two places ahead of bottom club East Stirling. This was nevertheless an interesting and entertaining game. One where the full scale of footballing careers was on show. From the very young trialists for Cowdenbeath, through to the more established likes of Muirhead and Swann, right up to the silver foxes in Reynolds and Allison for East Stirling. There was a decent amount of impressive young talent though, particularly a Cowdenbeath trialist whose name I will certainly be looking out for in the future.
East Stirling started the brighter of the two sides and adapted to the bumpy surface first despite being the away side here at Central Park. However, it was Cowdenbeath who created the early chances with a slightly more experienced starting 11. Neat work from Trialist in midfield resulted in Johnstone volleying over the bar from the edge of the box.
Muirhead also impressed during a first half that Cowdenbeath ultimately went on to control. Muirhead’s first chance came via a mazey run in from the left flank, but his powerfully struck left footed shot sailed over the bar from a tight angle.
It was a Trialist who impressed me most though for Cowdenbeath. He looked well beyond his years as he controlled the midfield, showed coolness, an excellent touch and a wonderful passing ability on a difficult surface.
Cowdenbeath continued to dominate until midway through the 1st half when East Stirling won their first corner. Swung in from the right, Mcardle found himself unmarked 6 yards out, but headed straight at Hunter between the sticks. Cowdenbeath immediately looked to counter attack from the resulting chance and Hunter’s quick distribution, led to Trialist pinging a wonderful through ball to Trialist who looped the outrushing Fairbanks. An East Stirling defender was close to clearing the ball off the line, but the linesman on the far side awarded the goal. Cowdenbeath were well worth their lead.
East Stirling reacted well after going one down, the defence sured up and they created their first real chance from open play soon after the goal. Murray beat the full back down the right flank and fed a well weighted pass into veteran Reynolds. The 41 year old showed sharpness well below his years to beat the outrushing Hunter to the ball and calmly slotted home for 1-1. However, it was the combination of Trialist and Johnstone again that created an opportunity to take the hosts in 2-1 up at halftime. The opportunity to play a through ball was snapped up and, more importantly, well executed by Trialist again… Johnstone calmly tucked away.
Halftime – Cowdenbeath 2-1 East Stirling
Cowdenbeath continued to dominate in the early stages of the 2nd half, but they went on to lose the cutting edge and sharpness they had in the 1st half. Few chances were created, but they managed to make the win a little more comfortable in the 76th minute. An in-swinging left footed free-kick from Trialist was nodded, more shouldered, into the net by substitute Trialist. Both claimed the goal, but I think after a few a exchanges during the celebrations the Trialist header won over his team mates.
The only other incident of the 2nd half was an unfortunate injury to Cowdenbeath Captain Leslie who appeared to fall awkwardly with veteran Reynolds. These two battled well all game and it was an interesting match up to watch, a 41 yr old striker full of experience and positional knowhow against an a 18 year old passionate Captain who was solid and vocal throughout. Leslie undoubtedly won this head-to-head but had the make an early exit.
Before the full time whistle was blown we were lucky enough to see another veteran appearance for East Stirling. 46 year old John Allison sprung onto the pitch much like the various Cowdenbeath trialists before him. But he had little impact on the remainder of the game as Cowdenbeath went on to see out a comfortable win here.
Fulltime – Cowdenbeath 3-1 East Stirling
See you pitchside next time,