Annan Athletic v Cowdenbeath
Match Report by David Hastie
Annan brought the curtain down on what was an eventful season with a share of the spoils against Cowdenbeath. The Black and Golds made five changes, with keeper Ross Munro returning to Ross County meaning Alex Mitchell regained his place, with Lewis Hunter, Iain Anderson, Tyler Fulton and Dean Watson all dropping to the bench, replaced by Matty Douglas, Nathan Flanagan, Tony Wallace and Aidan Smith.
Smith was looking to make an instant impact, with an impressive bit of skill beating his defender down the left within the first minute, but his cross was blocked out for a corner, which came to nothing.
The Blue Brazil, who had confirmed their place in League Two next season, were looking to end the season strongly, and almost took the lead seven minutes in. A Fraser Mullen throw in went to Robbie Buchanan, whose cross eventually found Harvey Swann, who with absolutely no pressure screwed the ball wide to the right.
The hosts heeded the warning and applied large amounts of pressure on Cowdenbeath. Darren Christie was looking for his third goal of the season, latching on to a long ball over the top which took an awkward bounce away from the outrushing Nicky Hogarth. He nodded past the keeper and shaped up to shoot, but the angle proved too difficult, and Hogarth recovered to save well to his near post.
Aidan Smith was causing all sorts of problems up front, with his constant running and hustling of defenders. He got on the end of a trademark Matty Douglas long throw, but he could not force the ball over the line, with Hogarth again on hand to save from about six yards out.
The hosts were piling on the pressure looking for the opener, and just a minute later Hogarth had a wonder save to make. Tony Wallace took possession of the ball into the box, before finding Darren Christie with his cross. The Pollock loanee unleashed a ferocious half volley, but Hogarth equalled the attempt saving well into the path of Nathan Flanagan, whose shot was blocked for a corner.
In an end-to-end game, Cowdenbeath had the ball in the back of the net after a lovely cross from the left was nodded onto veteran Iain Russell from Mullen. The former Annan Athletic youth player poked the ball home, however, was adjudged to be offside.
The visitors were hunting for the break that would put them in front, and just before the half hour mark, a long ball to Kris Renton was crossed first time into the box, but Russell’s header was tame and straight at Alex Mitchell.
Annan were showing their skill on 31 minutes, with the front three of Smith, Christie and Flanagan linking up with short sharp passing, finding Mark Docherty on the edge of the box, but his curled shot was off target.
Cowdenbeath had another great chance just five minutes later, with a corner whipped in from the left by Mullen finding Buchanan, whose header crashed off the bar and cleared away.
The Galabankies then surged up the pitch, with a Douglas long throw finding Nathan Flanagan unmarked in the box, but his shot was fired wide. Hogarth was called into action two minutes later,
with Steven Swinglehurst the unlikely shooter, struck the ball from outside the box and looked destined for the top right corner, but the Rangers loanee pulled off an unbelievable save to deny.
Half Time Annan Athletic 0-0 Cowdenbeath
In a game that for all intents and purposes had no meaning other than pride, both teams were attacking fiercely, and both would be disappointed not to go in with the lead, but a lapse of concentration from the hosts would see that wrong righted six minutes into the second half. The Blue Brazil were awarded a free kick after Tony Wallace fouled. This was quickly taken to Kris Renton, whose through ball played in Robbie Buchanan, who made no mistake in slotting the ball home for 1-0 to the visitors.
The goal had the away side sniffing to double their lead, and they had a real purple patch, controlling possession and working hard to put the game to bed. They were almost 2-0 up, with a Steven Swinglehurst mistake allowing Renton to rush in on goal, but his shot was poor and well over the bar.
Iain Russell was rolling back the years ten minutes from time, was some wonderful play seeing him cut back, creating space on the edge of the box to get his shot away, but his great skill was not matched by his shot, which flew over the bar.
The visitors were reduced to ten men on 83 minutes, with a poor tackle from Kyle Hutton seeing him pick up his second yellow card and an early bath.
It was the changing point in the game, and Annan found themselves level one minute from time. Aidan Smith continued to be a nuisance down the right, crossing and finding Kyle Fleming whose shot managed to avoid the gaggle of players in front of him and find the net. The goal resulted in a bit of a set to which saw Lewis Hunter and manager Peter Murphy booked, as well as Fraser Mullen from the visitors.
The hosts had the chance to take all three points, however the cross from Flanagan following a short corner was cleared away, ensuring the Fifers left with a point.