Cowdenbeath 3-1 Motherwell
‘Well continued their pre-season preparations with a 3-1 loss away to Cowdenbeath.
Scott McDonald started for Mark McGhee’s side after signing a new deal with the Fir Parkers last week and the forward looked sharp from the first whistle, as his strike on the turn after two minutes rose over the crossbar.
And the Aussie was at it again just minutes later, as a ball over the top was collected well by McDonald, who avoided a challenge in the box but dragged his low strike just inches wide of the post.
And his strike partner Blyth looked up for the occasion too, working tirelessly and winning the ball well in the air.
The target man chased down what looked to be a lost cause in the fourth minute, with a strong challenge winning a corner for the Steelmen. The resulting spot kick was well cleared by the home side.
It was a familiar story for the majority of the opening ten minutes, with a strong Motherwell side dominating the play, as the corner count rose and rose and at the opposite end Samson remained a spectator.
Debutant Craig Tait dealt expertly with a fizzing cross, as the full-back settled in comfortably in defence.
Blyth looked full of confidence as he dropped deep to collect the ball in the 15th minute, but his strike from distance was high of the mark.
A minute later, and Motherwell won a free-kick on the edge of the box after McDonald was dragged to the deck.
The forward looked set to test the keeper, but instead rolled the ball into the path of Marvin Johnson, whose low strike was well held by David McGurn.
Cowdenbeath’s first real opportunity came in the form of a set-piece after the ‘Well gave away a free-kick in their own half. A good delivery into the box was headed well over and Samson remained untested after 22 minutes.
And at the opposite end, a foul on Lasley resulted in a similar opportunity, but McManus’ shot missed the target after Cowdenbeath failed to clear Hammell’s cross.
Some neat play down the left flank by Johnson and Hammell looked to threaten the home side, as the Fir Parkers continue to dominate but couldn’t find the breakthrough.
Cowdenbeath went close on the half hour mark, as a well delivered corner from Mullen was headed over the bar.
However, the breakthrough finally arrived two minutes before the break, when Kieran Kennedy’s long ball fed Marvin Johnson through on goal. The midfielder only needed two touches to put it beyond McGurn: the first a slight header to take it towards goal and the second a neat touch with the outside of his left boot into the corner.
Midfielder Burton O’Brien looked hungry to strike back as he dribbled past a couple of challenges, but his strike from 20 yards never looked to trouble Samson, and it sailed over for a goal-kick.
Motherwell took a 1-0 lead into half time, but on another day it could have been two or three.
As was the story against Albion Rovers on Saturday, goal-scorer Marvin Johnson made way at the break, this time alongside Cadden. The pair were replaced by Thomas and Moult.
Just over five minutes in to the second half, Kris Renton had the first real opportunity, but skewed his shot wide.
And in the 54th minute, Cowdenbeath were level after the referee pointed to the spot. A heavy touch from Kennedy led to a lunging tackle and, despite getting a firm foot on the ball, the penalty was awarded and Dean Brett made no mistake from 12 yards.
Five minutes later and some neat link-up play between McDonald and Blyth on the break nearly restored the Fir Parkers lead, but Blyth’s strike on the stretch and from a tight angle missed the target.
Gasps were heard around Central Park from the travelling support as a late, lunging challenge on Scott McDonald saw the forward fall to the deck clutching his ankle, and in a competitive match could have resulted in a red card for Sean Rutherford. From the resulting free-kick, McDonald shook himself off and looped his strike over the wall, but it was well saved by McGurn.
Then, down the opposite end, Cowdenbeath punished McGhee’s men as a corner was headed in to the back of his own net by Kieran Kennedy.
And it could have been three for Cowdenbeath if it weren’t for a good save by Craig Samson, who denied Kyle Miller from eight yards.
Trailing the match with just over 20 minutes to play, the ‘Well boss brought on youngster Allan Campbell for Keith Lasley, who played a full 90 minutes in the 3-1 win over Albion Rovers on Saturday. However, on the 71st minute, Cowdenbeath did get goal number three and it was a very well-worked effort.
The ball looked to be heading out of play, but a wonderful back heel played in one of their many trialists who powered a volley across goal towards yet another trialist, who tapped it beyond Samson.
Mark McGhee made another change in the 74th minute, as Lionel Ainsworth replaced the Steelmen’s trialist.
In the dying minutes of the match, Motherwell went close to pulling a goal back, but somehow the home side kept it out after the ball was cut back to leave virtually an open goal, but it was well read by the defence.
But the evening ended in defeat for Motherwell, who face Dumbarton on Saturday in the fourth pre-season friendly.
Motherwell: Samson; Tait, Hammell, Kennedy, McManus; Lasley (Campbell ’69), Cadden (Thomas ’45), Trialist (Ainsworth ’75); Blyth, McDonald, Johnson (Moult ’45)