NO failures could be found in Cowdenbeath colours as Calum Elliot’s team “gave everything” for the club and its supporters.

To a man, they fought valiantly across the park from first whistle to last and threatened to give Inverness an unexpected Scottish Cup scalp on Saturday.

It wasn’t to be though as the Championship opposition’s fitness and quality shone through in the dark with two goals in the final ten minutes.

Duncan Ferguson had made seven changes to his pack for the clash and his fresh charges were unable to break through a stubborn and well-organised Cowdenbeath defence.

He had to roll the dice and a triple substitution with twenty minutes to go proved crucial.

Billy Mckay and David Wotherspoon were brought on to ensure Caley progressed to the Fourth Round and they did just that.

The latter struck with ten minutes left, firing low past Craig Hepburn from the edge of the box with a neat switch of the feet, past Robbie McNab, and a clinical strike from his left boot followed.

Hepburn was slightly unsighted by Gregor Jordan and saw the effort late.

Mckay then followed his teammate’s example and applied the killer second as slack play inside and outside the Cowdenbeath box was duly punished in emphatic fashion.

The marksman’s form in the Scottish game is well-documented and he added to his goal tally with a powerful finish which Hepburn’s outstretched left hand couldn’t keep out. As the ball hit the net, any hope of a comeback was over.

However, the visitors kept committing men forward and demanding better of one another.

After the full-time whistle sounded, they walked over to the travelling faithful to soak up a well-deserved applause for an excellent performance – particular in the first half – that should give them belief and motivation to surge up the Lowland League table in the months ahead after running last year’s Scottish Cup runners-up very close to extra time and penalties.

It was Cillian Sheridan who had the first chance of the game, but his downward header was well cleared off the line by an alert Jack Tait.

Hepburn was then called into action with his feet sending Nathan Shaw’s shot over the crossbar. It was a good height and central to the stopper, but there were bodies in front of him and he had to react quickly.

Cowdenbeath had nothing to lose going into this match, but they came to play and win, and worked the ball well between the lines and into the wide areas.

They were able to hurt Caley when doing so, and Matty McDonald came the closest over the piece when his long-range drive was only a foot wide from smashing in off the inside of the post.

It was a fright for the home side and after the restart they came out a different animal, likely wounded from harsh wounds in the ear from Ferguson.

Adam Brooks should have scored from a neat cutback but Robbie McNab’s torso was in the way, and then Hepburn was on hand to deny Sheridan with a fine save following a lapse in the Cowden defence.

The forward then was presented with a glorious opportunity to find the net when McNab’s back-pass was capitalised on by the 34-year-old.

With the goal ahead of him and only Hepburn to beat, he dallied and allowed a flying Jordan to appear from nowhere to slide the ball out for a corner in a moment of truly superb defending.

Jordan was in fantastic form, and no moment defined his performance more.

Cowden had defended so well all game, but the introduction of Mckay and Wotherspoon changed the dynamic.

Wotherspoon was finding room in dangerous areas and Mckay was pulling defenders out of position habitually.

Their nous paid off as they each netted with fine finishes as they finally broke the Blue Brazil’s resolve.

As stated from the outset, this was a performance to be proud of.

Fatigue kicked in during the final phase of the game and it was enough for the hosts to take advantage of to seal passage into the next round.

On another day, Cowden may have held on to force extra-time but it was not to be, though they would have duly merited it.

Manager's Reaction

Speaking to the Times post-match, Calum Elliot was disappointed to lose out on a place in the next round but praised his young squad for their application.

He said: “In terms of the players and everything we asked them to do, they done that.

“That bit of quality at the end has been the difference. The two chances they had there, they took both.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more from my players.

“They did give everything.

“They do that every single week.

“They’re a good group of boys.”

When asked what aspect of the display impressed him most, he commented: “Their ability to take on information and being able to adapt on the pitch.

“Inverness have been playing a three (in defence), but they switched to a four today, so it did take us ten to 15 minutes to get to grips with that.

“I felt as the first half went on, we grew stronger.

“In the second half they’ve come out a bit and then in the last five to ten minutes, once they got their tails up, they kind of smelled blood.

“In fairness to the boys, even in the last five minutes, they kept giving everything.”

His counterpart in the home dugout, Ferguson, also gave credit to Cowden, saying: “Cowdenbeath made it really tough for us to be fair to them.

“They stuck to their gameplan well and kept a good shape. It wasn’t until the final ten minutes that they started to tire a little.”

After giving so much, it’s understandable for the defeated group to feel deflated, but Elliot told them in no uncertain terms that their commitment should be applauded.

He said: “There’s not a lot you can really say (in the dressing room post-match), other than to say they’ve done the club proud.

“We came here to win, and we’ve not done that, but in terms of us coming to one of the form teams in the Championship, we certainly never disgraced ourselves.

“At times we played good football, but the difference was when they’ve had a chance, they’ve taken it and when we got into those areas we’ve not really been able to match that.”

Elliot continued: “As the half wore on, they put us under more pressure, and we had to freshen the legs up and make sure we could get pressure on the ball in certain areas. The two goals we concede are avoidable, but for these young boys it’s a valuable experience for them.

“Even when they went 2-0 up, the boys were still trying to lay a glove on them and they did do that, but unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough today.”

Greg MacPherson made his debut at right-back and was praised by his new boss for an energetic effort down the right.

Elliot said: “Greg was outstanding.

“Today was exactly what we brought him into the club to do.

“He’ll give us legs down that right side and there’s no doubt him and Zac will work well together.

“He should be pleased with how he done.”

MacPherson was a contender for man of the match, from both sets of players. You’ll do well to find a more impressive display from a debutant right-back.

He made tracks up and down the right all afternoon, making smart passes defensively and offensively, and dealing with threats.

It would be wrong to single out just one performance, though, as every Cowdenbeath player deserved credit for their effort.


Craig Hepburn: He made some important saves, was calm in possession and could not be faulted for either goal. He also played through the pain after a collision with an Inverness forward left him requiring stitches to combat a burst nose.

Greg MacPherson: As stated above, he was just excellent.

Gregor Jordan: His reading of the game was beyond his years at times, making a stunning block to prevent an opener when the game was locked in the second half.

Robbie McNab: With the exception of one stumble, the club captain was composed at the back and kept experienced striker Cillian Sheridan in check.

Jack Tait: The left-back dealt well with Inverness’ advances on his side of the pitch and cleared a goal-bound header off the line in the first half.

Zac Butterworth: A thorn to Caley down the right and worked well with G.MacPherson.

Matty McDonald: His return to the team from injury has been a massive boost. He’s a calming figure at the heart of the midfield and linked the ball neatly between the lines from back to front.

Aiden McLaughlin: He gave his all in the middle of the park and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in.

Josh Jack: He supported Ewan MacPherson well and kept finding pockets of space to move into. A speculative effort flew wide in the first half.

Jamie Docherty: Always had his head up looking to make something happen and was key in building several counter attacks.

Ewan MacPherson: On his own through the middle, he harried and hassled the Inverness defenders and ran himself completely into the ground. A selfless display.

Substitutes: Lucas Berry was given the most time to play and continued on from where Josh Jack had left off, with Ciaren Chalmers, Mikey Cunningham and Adam MacDonald providing fresh legs as the second half progressed.

COWDENBEATH: Hepburn, G. MacPherson, McNab, Jordan, Tait, Butterworth, McLaughlin (Chalmers), McDonald (MacDonald), Jack (Berry), Docherty, E.MacPherson (Cunningham). Subs not used: Walker

INVERNESS: MacKay: Duffy (Carson), Delaney, Devine, Ujder, Gilmour, Longstaff (Lodovica), Brooks (Wotherspon), Welsh (Davidson), Sheridan (Mckay), Shaw. Subs not used: Harper, Hyde, Thompson. Goals: Wotherspoon (80), and Mckay (84).

Attendance: 1,037

Referee: Graham Grainger