Betfred Cup preview: Cowdenbeath v Dunfermline Athletic

Dunfermline Athletic opened this season in the same fashion as the last; with a three-goal victory over Arbroath. Their next game was against this Saturday’s opponents Cowdenbeath in the League Cup and history may repeat itself if the Pars run out winners at Central Park.

The stadium that doubles as a stock car circuit is a notoriously difficult field to play on; not only because of the short narrow pitch, but the standard of the grass is not even what you expect from most League One and Two clubs these days. Inverness Caledonian Thistle just surpassed the recently relegated fourth tier outfit, by two goals to one in Fife, while on Tuesday at Tannadice, the Blue Brazil lost six-one. In a microcosm showing that the disparate in the home and away from is still an issue. In the two visits last season, the Pars took four points from a possible six, and only one goal – a deflected free kick –  separated the sides. With that in mind, it will come as no surprise if it is another close game on Saturday.

Keys to the game

Athletic should take many positives from their 3-0 win over Arbroath, with the only negative being an aspect that has been outstanding during Allan Johnston’s tenure, e.g. set-pieces. Although against the Caley Jags, they looked less than comfortable from corners and throw-ins launched into the box. Considering the pitch’s narrow nature it will be beneficial to field the same eleven that lined up on Tuesday. Using Joe Cardle and Rhys McCabe out wide to naturally drift inside and allow the full-backs to push on past them. That is a tactic that Johnston already employees and it may be enough to disrupt a Cowden side that still look some way from being an organised unit.

For rookie manager Liam Fox he is going to find it difficult to exploit weaknesses in Athletic. However, one glaringly obvious way to do so is allowing the left midfielder (probably Lewis Moore) to charge into the gap created by Ryan Williamson when he goes on one of his trademark jaunts up the sideline and looks to find the centre forward, Kris Renton with a cross.

Cowdenbeath Signings

Goalkeepers: David McGurn (Raith Rovers).
Defenders: Craig Sives (Livingston), Fraser Mullen (East Fife), Gerry McLaughlan (Ayr United), Greg Ross (Pencuik), James Creaney (Hurlford), Shaun Rutherford (Queen of the South).
Midfielders: Burton O`Brien (Alloa), Charlie Denton (Berwick Rangers), Chris Turner (Hamilton), David Robertson (Selkirk), Lewis Moore (Hearts).
Forwards: Gary Glen (Livingston), Kris Renton (Newtongrange Star).

Dunfermline Signings

Defenders: Euan Spark (Dundee United), Lee Ashcroft (Kilmarnock).
Midfielders: Nat Wedderburn (Inverness Caledonian Thistle).
Forwards: Gavin Reilly, (Heart of Midlothian), Kallum Higginbotham (Kilmarnock), Paul McMullan (Celtic).

Kickoff time and ticket prices

Saturday, 15:00pm, Central Park.
All Stands: Adults £12, Concessions £6.


Referee

Colin Steven.

Key Cowdenbeath player

Kris Renton: The six-foot-three-inch centre forward is still the youngest player to have played for Norwich City at the age of 16 years and 276 days. Unfortunately, for him, that was over nine years ago, and the striker had been in the Junior ranks for the last six seasons. Filling Greig Spence’s boots may be hard to fill, but if he shows some of the ability that he possessed at youth level for the Canaries, he may trouble League Two defences and give Ben Richards-Everton and Lee Ashcroft something to think about on Saturday.

Key Dunfermline player

Nat Wedderburn: The holding midfielder will return to his old stomping ground this weekend, and will have to facilitate two jobs that he can comfortably do. He will look to play those short, precise passes to the more creative players, and fill in at centre-half when the Pars are pulled apart defensively. At set-pieces he could be utilised giving his stature, but that is if the deliveries are improved from Tuesday.

Last five meetings

19/03/16 Cowdenbeath 0-1 Dunfermline  League One
02/01/16 Dunfermline 2-1 Cowdenbeath League One
31/10/15 Cowdenbeath 0-0 Dunfermline League One
15/08/15 Dunfermline 7-1 Cowdenbeath League One
01/08/15 Dunfermline 5-1 Cowdenbeath League Cup

Odds

Cowdenbeath 11/2 Draw 18/5 Dunfermline 1/2 (MarathonBet)


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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