THIS was always going to be a tough task for Cowdenbeath, taking on the Championship leaders without several regulars, but there was little in the match with a first-half goal giving the visitors the verdict, at Central Park on Saturday.

Cowden at last had a full bench for this one with Kian Kavanagh declared fit along with Brad Smith, and they were in the starting line-up along with young Jacob Glass, who started in a three man defence.

Glass was outstanding in an all round good defensive display by the team, in which goalkeeper Ross Sinclair was also on top form, along with Fraser Mullen and Craig Barr.

In the middle of the park Olly Hamilton worked hard for an hour alongside Mikey Herd, and Kyle Miller appeared as a sub to make an impact, replacing injured Jamie Todd, and there were chances for the Blue Brazil.

Kavanagh and Smith posed problems for the Rovers, as did veteran debutant Iain Russell, and the Blues would rue a couple of bad misses in the second period.

Russell used his experience to create one or two really good openings and the Rovers’ defence had to be on the alert every time he was in possession, and he will use a useful signing.

Rovers started promisingly and in seven minutes Brad Spencer made ground in to the Cowden box, but under pressure from Todd fired over from 12 yards.

In 16 minutes Rovers forced a corner and the delivery by Ethan Ross caught out Sinclair and it needed a good block by Ross Clarke on the line, which was latched on to by Sinclair who blasted the ball out for a throw.

In 23 minutes Russell put pressure on Fernande Mendy who let Smith have a clear view of Robbie Thomson and the striker’s eight yard flick brought out a fine save from the Rover’s ‘keeper.

The Championship side went forward in 32 minutes and Dylan Tait’s angled drive brought out a fine save from Sinclair.

But in 35 minutes the visitors went ahead when Mane DUKU held off Todd’s challenge and fired a fine 12 yard left foot shot past the ‘keeper.

Then two minutes later Duku went through again but this time Sinclair dived at the striker’s feet to save.

Russell was defied by a brave Thomson save and on the interval whistle a diagonal bass from Barr was headed across the face of the Rovers box by Clarke, but before Kavanagh could turn the ball past Thomson, Mendy made a timely interception.

Cowden attacked right from the first whistle of the second period and sub Miller latched on to Clarke’s pass and fired just wide from the edge of the Rovers’ box.

However, at the other end two minutes later Ross’s corner caused problems for Cowdenbeath and Frankie Musonda had a clear sight of Sinclair but fired over from only ten yards.

In 56 minutes a Mullen corner gave Barr a free header but from only eight yards out he headed wide.

However, at the other end in 64 minutes Tait blasted over from close in but with 18 minutes left Cowden missed a great chance when sub Harvey Swann’s cross was perfect for Kavanagh, but he blasted wide from only five yards.

Then with seven minutes left a Mullen free-kick was met by Swann and his seven yard header went inches over.

Cowden kept working hard and sent crosses into the Raith box but could not get the leveller.

The win was not enough, though, to let Rovers qualify in a runners-up place for the next stage of the competition.

Cowdenbeath: Ross Sinclair (7); Fraser Mullen (7), Ross Clarke (6); Jamie Todd (6) (Kyle Miller 40 (6), Craig Barr (7), Jacob Glass (8); Olly Hamilton (6) (Graham Taylor 66 (3)), Mikey Herd (6) (Harvey Swann 66 (3)), Iain Russell (6), Brad Smith (7), Kian Kavanagh (6). Subs not used, Lewis Owens , Craig Easton and Mac Whyte.

Raith Rovers: Thomson (7); Tumilty (6), Mendy (7); Armstrong (7), Hendry (6), Duku (7); Matthews (6), Spencer (7), Musanda (7), Tait (7), Ross (7) (Coulson 76) (3). Subs not used, Mahady, Arnott and McDonald.

Referee- David Lowe (6).