Opening draw spot on

Forfar Athletic centre-back Mark McCulloch about to drill the ball home from close range after a knockdown from a corner on the right to get Forfar back on level terms at home to Cowdenbeath (Picture by Chris Coutts, Forfar)
Forfar Athletic centre-back Mark McCulloch about to drill the ball home from close range after a knockdown from a corner on the right to get Forfar back on level terms at home to Cowdenbeath (Picture by Chris Coutts, Forfar)

FOLLOWING two excellent cup victories, Forfar Athletic had to settle for a share of spoils in their league curtain-raiser at home to relegated Cowdenbeath on Saturday.

Despite not quite clicking, the Loons looked to have wrapped up all three points when they hit back from a goal down to score twice in the space of four minutes.

Alas, a defensive lapse allowed the visitors to level the scores with 12 minutes to go and, in the end, Dick Campbell’s men were a trifle fortunate to escape with a draw.

The manager accepted that Cowden were the better team in the first period while his side were on top for the major part of the second half.

“It took a blast at half-time to get the players interested,” he commented. “For 35 minutes in the second half we totally dominated the game and then we lost a stupid goal.

“We lost the ball in the middle of the park, one pass and two touches later it’s in the back of the net.

“From then on Cowdenbeath were the better team. They have pace and could have scored with the last kick of the ball.

“We have got to learn to defend properly when we are attacking.

“But, in the end a draw was a pretty fair result.”

Forfar went into the game without the services of the suspended Martyn Fothringham, while Michael Bolochoweckyj was ill.

Graham Gibson came in for Fothringham, with Greg Paterson back between the sticks.

The first real chance of the game fell to Chris Templeman, whose goal-bound first-time shot was blocked for a corner.

Then, in their first attack of the game the visitors grabbed the lead.

The pace of the attack caught Forfar out and, when a thunderbolt of a drive was palmed away by Paterson, the rebound fell kindly for the the impressive Mark Ramsay to blast home from close range.

Forfar tried to hit back immediately, but sometimes the build-up was too intricate.

Chris Templeman is always dangerous in or around the area and, when he sent over a peach of a cross from the left, Stevie Crawford got in a header but failed to get enough power on the ball to trouble the keeper.

Cowdenbeath’s pace continued to pose problems for the Forfar back four and a couple of last ditch tackles kept the visitors at bay.

Minutes before the break, Forfar looked to be through on goal. More clever work by Templeman set up Crawford, but the ball was whipped away from the striker as he was about to pull the trigger.

Whatever manager Dick Campbell said to his players at the interval certainly did the trick, for the home side were much better in the second period.

They took the game to Cowden, raiding down both flanks and it was no surprise when they scored twice in four minutes to take the lead.

The first came just before the hour mark when a corner from the right was met by Templeman, who set up Mark McCulloch to pick his spot from eight yards.

In 62 minutes, the home side took the lead from the spot. Another good move was brought to a halt when Jordan Morton pushed Greg Ross as he burst into the box on the left, and Chris Templeman stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way from the spot.

The Loons were well in command at this stage and should have wrapped the points up when Kevin Byers cut in from the left.

Alas, from an extremely acute angle, he opted to have a go himself, brushing the cross-bar with his drive when the easier option was to pick out Chris Templeman all alone in front of goal, with the goalkeeper in no man’s land.

How Forfar were to rue that missed opportunity for, with 12 minutes to go, Lewis Coult fastened on to a long hopeful ball out of defence, raced clear of the Forfar defence and clipped the ball wide of the on-rushing Paterson for the leveller.

The goal rejuvenated the visitors and it was Forfar who were hanging on in the end, managing to escape with a share of the spoils after substitute Marc McKenzie fired inches wide of the post after galloping clear down the right. Next up for the Loons in the league will be a visit to Albion Rovers, who were hit for six at Arbroath on Saturday. That game is played this coming Saturday.

But, with the matches coming thick and fast at the moment, the Loons were back in action on Tuesday evening (last night), hours after the Dispatch and Herald had gone to press, entertaining first division Greenock Morton in the second round of the Ramsdens Cup.

And, after the visit to Coatbridge on Saturday, there will be more cup action on Tuesday evening of next week, when Forfar head for Queen of the South in the second round of the Scottish Communities League Cup (kick-off 7.45 pm).

Forfar Athletic - Paterson, Wilson, McCulloch, Tulloch, Ross, Hegarty, Gibson (Ross Campbell), Mowat, Byers, Templeman (Motion) and Crawford.

Cowdenbeath Bejaoui, Brett, Armstrong, Mbu, Adamson, Cameron, Morton (McKenzie), Robertson, Linton, Ramsay and Stewart (Coult).

Referee - Gary Hilland.