Gary Jardine took some encouragement from a vastly-improved defensive performance from Edinburgh City, but they huffed and puffed without creating much in the way of clear-cut chances during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Cowdenbeath.
Ben Stirling, on loan from Hibs, scored the only goal of the game in the first half to give Billy Brown’s team a first win of the season, with City still to register a point after two games.
“I thought we started the game really well,” said Jardine. “We were on the front foot and got in to good wide areas, especially Jordan Caddow, and we filled the box. Once Cowdenbeath scored though, we lacked imagination when we got in to the last third of the park and that’s something I have to look at.
“We got in to good positions but didn’t make the most of it and, with the talent we’ve got, we need to be doing a lot better.
“Defensively, it was a huge improvement. We got done on the break and haven’t marked Ben Stirling so we’re disappointed. In the main, the back three did well though. Young Stuart Morrison played his first game and did really well having only ever played Under-20s and reserves for Dunfermline. Gareth Rodger played his first game since March and did well, so that bodes well going forward.”
Joe McGovern saw some early action when Ashley Grimes tried an audacious chip from outside the area, but it lacked sufficient height and the Cowden keeper held easily.
At the other end, Brad Smith squared for Cameron Muirhead on the six-yard box, but the striker couldn’t get enough contact to force past Calum Antell, who pounced on it.
A deep delivery from Caddow was then met by Craig Thomson, but the former Hearts man’s deliberately-placed header dropped just the wrong side of McGovern’s left-hand post.
The hosts were shading it territorially by this point, and probably deserved their lead on the half-hour mark. Cammy Muirhead did well down the right before cutting back for Stirling, who stroked the ball first time into the far corner, claiming his first goal for the Blue Brazil.
Muirhead was close to doubling the advantage two minutes before the break when he broke down the left and cut inside, but Antell stayed big to deny him.
A sodden second-half began with Craig Beattie meeting a Josh Walker corner at the back post, and the former Scotland internationalist would have been disappointed he didn’t hit the target. The remainder of the second half descended into a series of long balls, fouls and set-pieces, which allowed the hosts to see it out.
Cowdenbeath boss Brown felt his team were fully deserving of the win. “I thought the first half we played really well,” he reflected. “Second half we were pegged back a bit but I have to say in all honesty, I don’t think our goalie’s made a save over the 90 minutes. We had the chances in the game. It maybe could have been 2-0 and it would have been nice if it was, but we held on.
“I need to change the mentality at this club. Last season they finished bottom of all the teams in Scotland and they were relegated the two previous seasons, so I’m trying to get a winning mentality, a togetherness and a never-say-die attitude. The last two games, we’ve shown that.”
Cowdenbeath: McGovern, Pyper, Rutherford, Stirling, Rumsby, Syme, A Smith (Buchanan 81), Mullen, Muirhead, Miller, Trialist (Connelly 78).
Edinburgh City: Antell, Caddow (Deniran 75), Rodger, Walker (Malin 69), Laird, Thomson, Beattie, Grimes (Allan 75), I Smith, Morrison, Mackie.
Referee: Craig Napier