Elgin cup clash will be ex-Hearts kid’s biggest match

Mark Cowan, pictured on the ball with Broxburn, has rebuilt his career since his days as a teenager at Hearts, below
Mark Cowan, pictured on the ball with Broxburn, has rebuilt his career since his days as a teenager at Hearts, below
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New Bo’ness United striker Mark Cowan insists Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup third round clash away to League 2 Elgin City will be the biggest game of his career.

Former Hearts youngster Cowan has had a whirlwind start to life at Newtown Park. The 24-year-old only signed for the BUs from Super League rivals Broxburn Athletic last Thursday and netted a hat-trick on his debut at the weekend as Bo’ness marched into the third round of the Junior Cup with a 10-0 hammering of Stoneyburn.

Cowan was released at Hearts in 2009 as a 19-year-old, the striker having topped the scoring charts in the 19s league with 13 goals in one season, but he wasn’t offered a new contract at Tynecastle having never made an appearance for the first team in four years at the club. He went on to play for Brechin City and then Spartans reserves, before making the move to Juniors, joining Tranent and latterly Broxburn where he spent three and a half years.

Son of former Hibs striker Steve Cowan, Mark has been pinching himself at his move to the Super League champions and the start he has made with Bo’ness after struggling at Albyn Park prior his switch.

“It was quite a quick move, it just all happened so suddenly,” said Cowan.

“My former gaffer [Steve Pittman] phoned me last Monday and said Bo’ness were interested in signing me. When I got the call I was desperate to go along. I trained with them on Thursday and then I signed afterwards.”

Cowan had been struggling at Broxburn, having scored regularly for the club last year – the striker only finding the net once this term, from the penalty spot, while he coped with groin and ankle injuries.

He admits he could not have foreseen the move coming as he laboured in front of goal and was bereft of any confidence, but after joining the BUs he has been given a new lease of life.

“I’ve not been at my top form at all this season, so I didn’t expect anything to happen,” he said.

“I wasn’t scoring – I scored a penalty this season and that was it. I just couldn’t finish my chances and I was getting a bit frustrated with myself. It was just stop-start really. I kept coming back and then I wouldn’t play and then I’d play again.

“I didn’t expect to start on Saturday, but he [manger, Allan McGonigal] put me in and I obviously did my bit with getting a hat-trick, so it was a great start for me.

“It was good to get my goals and my confidence is sky-high now. Hopefully that will put me in the starting line-up for Saturday.”

After rewarding Bo’ness boss McGonigal’s faith in him by netting a hat-trick at the weekend, the striker will almost certainly keep his place in the starting XI for the trip north to Borough Briggs.

The BUs have never reached the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, and Cowan is keen to ensure they do that against the SPFL’s lowest club, City currently sitting bottom of the league with just two wins from their opening nine league matches.

Barry Wilson’s men are the favourites for Saturday’s match after they overcame Highland League side Forres Mechanics 3-1 in their second round replay, with the BUs priced up at almost 3/1 to win in 90 minutes.

Cowan admits the opportunity to play in the Scottish Cup was a major pull in making the move, and he would love to get a crack at one of Scotland’s biggest clubs if Bo’ness make it through after experiencing playing at Easter Road in the League Cup in 2009 when at Brechin.

He said: “If we can get through that then you can get one of the big guns – the chance to play Celtic, Rangers, Hibs or Hearts would be massive for the club.

“The chance to play in the Scottish Cup was a big part of me making the move, and Bo’ness obviously won the league last year and are challenging for the cups.

“It’ll the biggest game that I’ve probably had in my career – playing in the Scottish Cup – although I played against Hibs at Easter Road for Brechin in the League Cup earlier in my career.”