WITHOUT six first picks Cowden took on Annan Athletic in this league opener well understrength and the Borderers took advantage to win comfortably.

Cowdenbeath even had to make a change for the kick-off, with striker Kris Renton picking up a knock in the warm-up and David Cox stepped in, while on loan players from the junior ranks, Brad Smith and Graham Hay, were in the starting line-up.

Although skipper Craig Barr was back in the side, defensive mate Jamie Todd was suspended, so Hay went into the centre of rearguard.

It was at the back Cowdenbeath looked particularly suspect against a sweet moving Annan side, who were aided by some poor passing by the Blue Brazil, especially in the first-half.

The visitors carved out too many openings in the first period, many also contributed to by some indifferent home marking.

The only Cowden players to gain pass marks were ‘keeper, Ross Sinclair, who produced several excellent saves, young right-back Ross Pollock, and Kyle Miller and Graham Taylor worked hard in midfield but them apart it was a bad day for Cowdenbeath.

The second-half was better for the Blues and they should have had a penalty at 2-0 which might have made a difference, but match officials chose to ignore a clear handling offence.

The early stages saw Annan have the bulk of possession but it was the Blues who had the first shot at goal in ten minutes when Graham Taylor took a Cian Kavanagh lay-off and fired in a 20 yarder, which Jordan Pettigrew grabbed at the second attempt.

However, four minutes later Annan hit back when a Jack Purdie pass escaped Barr and Max Wright’s shot was brilliantly deflected over the bar by Sinclair.

In 18 minutes the Athletic took the lead. The home defence was caught out by Nathan FLANAGAN’s movement and he worked space for himself to fire a 14 yard left foot shot wide of Sinclair.

Two minutes later the striker got clear of the cover again and this time Sinclair deflected the ball for a corner.

However, in 27 minutes the visitors got a second. Flanagan was the provider this time with a cross from the right, after a good run, and Iain ANDERSON powered a header wide of Sinclair.

Cowden tried to retaliate and forced a series of corners but the Annan defence was looking solid and strong work in the air preserved their advantage which they held to the break.

Annan started the second period aggressively and Wright saw his fierce 18 yarder charged down by Barr but at the other end Smith latched on to a loose clearance but fired over.

Then in 51 minutes Taylor created a great chance for Kavanagh but his finish from 10 yards was much too high.

Seconds later the Blues had a good penalty shout when a Ross Clarke cross was armed away by Lewis Hunter but the referee waved play on clearly judging the ball had played the man.

Then Taylor saw a great run which ended with Hunter putting in a last ditch tackle but then on the hour Annan clinched the points.

Again the home defence was found wanting when Jack PURDIE was given too much space and he coolly fired an angled 12 yarder well wide of Sinclair.

Cowden were defied by some good defending by Annan with Taylor and Kavanagh going close but at the other end Sinclair made a spectacular save from Aaron Splaine’s 25 yarder.

However, with two minutes left a Barr header from a corner was cleared off the line to deny the Blues some consolation.

Cowdenbeath: Ross Sinclair (7); Ross Pollock (6), Ross Clarke (6); Graham Hay (6), Craig Barr (6), Kyle Miller (7); Graham Taylor (7), Cian Kavanagh (6), David Cox (6), Brad Smith (6), Ollie Hamilton (6). (Harvey Swann 63 (3)). Subs not used, Craig Easton, Jacob Glass, Lewis Owens, Mikey Herd and Mac Whyte.

Annan Athletic: Pettigrew (7); Hunter (6), Clark (7); Mason (6), Douglas (7), Swinglehurst (6); Purdie (7) (Docherty 78 (3)), Splaine (6), Wright (7), Anderson (7) (Fleming 87 (2)), Flanagan (8 (Smith 67 (3)). Subs not used, Mitchell, Watson, Cinnamon and Currie.

Referee-Scott Lambie (5).