A game to test your love for football

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SATURDAY’s draw between Rovers and Cowdenbeath was one of those games that left you questioning your love for football.

Shivering through 90 minutes in a dump of a stadium with little quality on show is not what football’s purists have in mind when they refer to it as ‘the beautiful game’.

0913050 SSFF cowden raith 'Laurie Ellis & David McGurn despondent after Cowdenbeath score an equalizer - Raith Rovers against Cowdenbeath FC at Central Park, Cowdenbeath

0913050 SSFF cowden raith 'Laurie Ellis & David McGurn despondent after Cowdenbeath score an equalizer - Raith Rovers against Cowdenbeath FC at Central Park, Cowdenbeath

Cowdenbeath have always been a friendly welcoming club, but Central Park, with its exposure to the elements, view-restricting metal fences and dusty race track, is the least attractive ground to visit in the country.

Even dewy-eyed historians would have trouble romanticising about it.

Perhaps such surroundings are not conducive to a good game of football, but if fans are paying first division rates, they ought to expect first division standards.

For the most part, Saturday’s match fell way short, particularly the first half which had no shots, no saves, and no value for money. A zero on the entertainment scale.

What derbies lack in quality they can often make up for in blood, sweat and tears, but there wasn’t even a tackle worth noting.

This wasn’t football, it was just 22 men kicking a leather sphere on grass.

If you had to pick between the teams at half-time, you could only say Raith were marginally the better side because they kicked the ball more times than the hosts.

The second half could only get better, and thankfully it did.

After a whole half without a shot on target we got a goal inside three minutes as Brian Graham rose brilliantly above two defenders to head home an Allan Walker corner.

A goal was more than this game deserved, but it seemed to spark proceedings to life.

For the next 10 minutes or so, Rovers upped the tempo and could have had the game sewn up by the hour mark.

Graham tested Flynn again with a powerful volley that the ‘keeper did well to parry, while Pat Clarke was inches away from converting Grant Anderson’s low cross.

Cowden were still stuck in their first half stupour but they were soon kicked out of it by manager Colin Cameron, who made a double substiution, replacing both strikers.

The changes gave the hosts an energy they’d lacked all game, and with 15 minutes left, David McGurn was called to make his first serious save as he pawed a swerving Craig Moore shot way away from the top corner.

Grant Murray responded in the 76th minute with an attacking change, replacing holding midfielder Joe Hamill with striker Greig Spence, sending a clear signal that he wanted to push on and seal the points with a second goal, rather than sit back and hold on.

However, that plan collapsed just five minutes later when a lapse in concentration from Jason Thomson let the home side rescue a point.

Instead of kicking the ball into touch under pressure, he tried a risky clearance that only presented the ball straight to Moore, and when his shot was saved, Greg Stewart gobbled up the rebound.

It may have been a poor game, but having got themselves into a winning position against a team that was offering little, Rovers should have had the wherewithal to see this game out.

MATTHEW ELDER

Twitter: @mattelder_ffp