Rooted to the bottom of the entire SPFL with the prospect of relegation to the Lowland League a distinct possibility, it’s been a miserable season so far for Cowdenbeath. For striker Kris Renton, however, it’s the most enjoyable he’s had in a decade.
The former Musselburgh, Bonnyrigg and Newtongrange frontman made the step up to league football last summer after six years in the junior ranks.
Having started at Norwich City, he still holds the accolade of being the club’s youngest-ever player at 16 years, 262 days.
Fighting to preserve the Blue Brazil’s league status may be a long way from that substitute appearance against current Premier League champions Leicester City. Despite the precarious predicament, Renton has relished every minute of his maiden season as an SPFL player.
“I’ve honestly loved it this season,” said the 26-year-old. “Training and everything has been brilliant. Although the games haven’t gone how we’ve wanted, I’ve still really, really enjoyed it at Cowdenbeath, It’s a great club and it’s probably the most I’ve enjoyed my football since I was about 17 years old.
“People’s jobs are at stake if we go down. It’s quite a lot to have that in our hands so we need to make sure we can get out of the situation we’re in.”
To do so, the club replaced Liam Fox with ex-Hearts manager Gary Locke in a bid to avoid a play-off date with the winners of East Kilbride and the Highland League champions. “There’s not really been much changed at all,” said Renton of Locke’s approach. “Even under the old manager, we felt really hard done by with the position we were in. We knew it was going to turn round eventually but for Liam Fox it was just too late. Lockie’s come in and he’s been really good so hopefully we can keep kicking on.
“We were playing all right, but as soon as went a goal down that was us – our belief just went. Now we’ve got a bit more belief. Our first win of the year was only a few weeks ago against Berwick and since then it’s been a bit better.”
The goals of on-loan Livingston striker Dale Carrick have been key, and Renton believes his strike partner will be back playing at a higher level soon enough. “Dale’s a great player,” he said. “It’s good having him up front as he doesn’t stop running or give defenders a minute. I would imagine he’ll be playing at a higher level again next season – I’m very surprised he’s in the bottom league.”
That’s mainly down to injuries, something Renton can relate to having suffered a broken leg while at Carrow Road. “Dale’s been very unfortunate with injures,” he said. “He’s had good run of games with us now so he’s got his match fitness up. It takes a lot of hard work to get back after a long injury but, once you’re back, you just need to believe in yourself. Confidence is a massive thing and, if he’s confident and believes in himself, which everyone else does, he’ll be back up the levels again.”
First comes Edinburgh City away on Saturday. A win would leave Cowden just a point behind, with defeat not an option if safety is to be achieved. “I’d say it’s a ‘must win’,” conceded Renton, scorer of five goals this term. “We can’t really afford to lose any games left. They’re not all ‘must-win’ but we’re going in to each game thinking that.
“City are a good team. They beat us a few weeks ago 2-1 at home so we’re looking to get revenge.”