Yet another journey to Bonnie Scotland, and a "wee" treble. The games on offer this weekend were simply too good to refuse, so to speak, as they involved some of the longest treks north (for me anyhow) and they are usually very difficult to "double up" nevermind "treble up" so it made perfect economical sense!
12.00pm Saturday 31st October 2009
Scottish Football League Division Two
Cowdenbeath 2-1 East Fife
Let me begin by explaining why this game has an unusual midday kick off. A knock-on effect of Livingston’s escape from liquidation was that they were demoted from division one to division three of the Scottish league. As a consequence Airdire and Cowdenbeath were promoted to division one and two respectively. Cowdenbeath’s ground, Central Park, doubles up as a stock car racing track and today was the big autumn meeting. When the original fixtures were announced, Cowdenbeath were away to avoid a clash with the stock cars. When Livi were demoted and Airdrie promoted, Cowdenbeath simply took over Airdire’s fixtures. This now gave them a home game, hence why we are here today!!
The game, as luck would have it, is a big local derby against their rivals from Methill, East Fife. Cowdenbeath have had a good start to the season and are currently up in third place in the table whilst East Fife are just four points behind them in seventh.
The ground, to be brutally frank, is a tip! Obviously you have the stock car track around the pitch, so you are quite away from the action. There is a terrace on one side of the pitch, where most people congregate, and on the other a large seated stand, which is in two parts. Half is the original main stand and the other half is the modern replacement for the bit that was destroyed by fire in the 1990’s.
The game was a cracking full blooded end to end Derby. Both teams looked shocking defensively but great on the attack. The Blue Brazil (honestly that’s Cowden’s nickname) struck first inside two minutes when Brian Fairbairn fired home to give them the lead. East Fife player-manager Stevie Crawford then levelled on fourteen minutes before Jon Robertson restored ‘Beath’s lead two minutes later. Cowdenbeath had chances to extend their lead before half time but were very wasteful. They almost came to rue those misses.
The second half was a different story as the Fifers took control of the game and reduced the home side to playing on the counter. How they never levelled, I’ll never know. East Fife had plenty of possession but could not find an equaliser. The best chance on 70 minutes, when a David Muir header was pushed away by 'Beath 'keeper David Hay before Muir picked it up again, and his shot from 3 yards was again blocked by the keeper. The home side held on to take the three points.
The stand behind the goal was not open today, not surprising given that the opposition today was bottom of the table Falkirk. St Johnstone are not doing much better themselves but the crowd, who were mostly congregated in one stand, did create a good noise.
St Johnstone’s problems on the pitch recently have been an inability to score or when they have scored, to finish teams off. They got off to a flying start today when Collin Samuel netted after two minutes. The Saints created a few good chances but couldn’t put the ball in the net, Samuel (twice) and Jody Morris going close but worst offender was Liam Craig who missed a sitter from three yards out. Falkirk had a couple of little sniffs on the break and there was a nagging feeling the Saints problems would re-surface.
Indeed that was the case three minutes after the interval when Falkirk scored an equaliser when Carl Finnigan volleyed home past the advancing 'keeper. The home crowd quickly turned on their team, which possibly may explain why they struggle at times. However, they were soon cheering again as two goals in two minutes. A Chris Millar cross shot (64) and a Murray Davidson header (66) wrapped up the precious three points for Saints and leave the Bairns rooted to the foot of the table.
Tannadice is a mish-mash of stands but it does have a proper old fashioned feel. We were sat in the front row of the rather grand George Fox Stand. The game kicked off in absolute monsoon conditions but both teams produced a frenetic end to end game, which belied the difficult conditions.
Dundee United dominated play and carved out some great chances Paul Dixon and Mihael Kovacevic both hitting the crossbar, but after 29 minutes they were sucker punched by Rangers when Steven Davis netted after he was left free when United tried to play an offside trap.
The conditions were getting worse and the ball was holding up in the surface water. A half time inspection by the match officials left them with no real choice but to abandon the game. This was only my fourth abandonment in my years of hopping joining the illustrious list of Y Felinheli, Stalybridge Celtic and Lydney Town. I'll leave the final word on this game to The Blessed Walter who, with his team leading at half time was "disappointed" with the abandonment. Old Wally disappointed? some things never change.
All that was left was a five hour journey home to contemplate the rather damp end to an otherwise enjoyable weekend's proceedings.