CONNOR Smith played his last game for Cowden against Annan and picked up his third man of the match award.

Now the Blues will have to continue their Ladbrokes 2 promotion challenge without him after his recall to Hearts, but the Cowdenbeath lad will not forget his five month stint at Central Park.

The 17 year-old, who is pictured receiving his man of the match award from Jimmy Blair and David Allan, said after Saturday’s eighth home win: “I found out at the end of last week that the new Hearts boss was wanting me to return to Tynecastle but I am sure the lads will keep on winning without me.

“It was brilliant to finish my run of matches with a goal and a win, and getting the man of the match award, was an added bonus.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for me and getting the chance to play league football every week has been a real learning experience.

“I have learned so much and I thank the manager and coaches and my team mates for all their help, it has been invaluable and I wish the lads all the best for the rest of the season.”

Chris Hamilton, who joined the club with Smith from Tynecastle, is staying on.

Manager Gary Bollan is disappointed to be losing Smith but he is sure he is going to be a real talent for Hearts and he was very pleased with the way the young lad signed-off.

He said: “Connor’s finish was outstanding for the opening goal and over all he was a real thorn in Annan’s flesh and could have had at least one other goal.

“It was a great first-half performance from the team and I felt that our movement was good and dragged their tall defenders all over the park, with David Cox and Jordan Allan also causing real problems along with Connor.

“We dropped our intensity in the second period, which was a little disappointing, but we defended pretty well throughout the game which was a good element of the win.”

He will be looking at replacing Smith but is hoping to have both Craig Barr, Chris Hamilton and Graham Taylor fit after their spell of illness last week counting them out, when Albion Rovers come to Cowdenbeath this Saturday.

He added: “Albion Rovers will be coming here this weekend looking for points to get away from the lower reaches of the table so it will be no easy fixture.

“But we have to keep on winning to ensure we stay well placed in the top four and that is the intention against Rovers.

“Hopefully the lads who missed the game against Annan will be back for this Saturday so we are as close to full strength as possible.”

The manager will be looking around for possible recruits to strengthen things for the closing phase of the season.