FORFAR Athletic found league leaders Cowdenbeath a hot handful at Central Park on Saturday.
The Loons were dealt an early blow when on-loan midfielder Jordon Brown was was stretchered off in the very first minute, and had to be taken to hospital for treatment.
However, they held it together well, despite the reshuffle, which saw Kevin Byers entering the fray as substitute, and went in at the break at nil-nil.
With McCulloch, Wilson, Ross, Mowat and Bolochoweckyj also sidelined through injury and suspension, Forfar were low in numbers for a tricky match, but as long as it was all-square anything could happen.
Alas, it was Cowden who upped the ante in the second period, and three goals in 12 minutes killed the game stone dead.
The opener came in the 60th minute when Scott Linton cut inside the box and fed Lewis Coult, who fired past Greg Paterson from 16 yards.
The Fifers went two up in the 68th minute, Marc McKenzie getting the better of Iain Campbell and his cross deflecting off Joe Shaughnessy and falling nicely for Greg Stewart to slot home from 12 yards.
Four minutes later and the points were in the Cowden bag, when McKenzie set up Stewart to make it three-nil.
Forfar never lie down, however, and, with 15 minutes to go, Nicky Low scored a consolation goal with a right-footed volley from the edge of the area.
Five minutes later, the cat could have been amongst the pigeons had Jamie Bishops’s shot gone in instead of rebounding from the junction of post and bar.
Still, that’s life, and the result leaves Forfar languishing in seventh spot in the table, 12 points off the pace after ten outings.
Although lamenting the loss of Jordon Brown in the opening minute, an injury that just adds to Forfar’s player availability problems, manager Dick Campbell said he had no complaints about the result.
He admitted that Brown’s early departure had thrown his game plan “completely out of the window”.
“I can see why Cowdenbeath are top of the table,” he added. “They are a young side who work really hard for each other and, while a couple of their goals came from the ball being deflected, these are the things that go for you when you are at the top of the table.”
Forfar must now re-group and prepare for two important home games in quick succession, against teams sitting just below them in the table.
Bottom dogs Albion Rovers are in town this coming Saturday, and a win for the Loons would open the gap between them and their opponents to six points - and give a bit of breathing space.
The following Saturday, Brechin City are at Forfar on derby duty, another game which will have added pressure on both sets of players as they bid to start climbing the table. Cowdenbeath - Flynn, Cowan, Armstrong, Mbu, Adamson, McKenzie, Robertson, Winter, Linton, Morton (Coult) and Stewart (O’Brien).
Forfar Athletic - Paterson, Hegarty, Bishop, Shaughnessy, Motion (Tulloch), Fotheringham, Iain Campbell, Brown (Byers), Low, Templeman and Crawford.