'A tricky little encounter - but Hearts should have enough' - Journalists' predictions for Cowdenbeath v Hearts
The Evening News sport team give their predictions for tonight's Betfred Cup tie at Central Park...
Due to the nature of Central Park and the time of season, this is a tricky little encounter for Craig Levein and Hearts.
Cowdenbeath are going to be right up for this after a good 2-0 win over East Fife at the weekend and a number of their players have been at bigger clubs and a higher stage.
However, quality always shines through. I thought Hearts looked good for spells of the Dundee United match and certainly were the more likely side to find a winner until Andy Irving's late sending off. It might take a bit of time to break the Blue Brazil down, but Hearts will win this by a couple of goals. Prediction: Hearts win
Hibs’ slip-up against Stirling Albion at the weekend should give Hearts all the warning they need about the perils of treating a match against League Two opposition lightly.
Cowdenbeath are no longer Scottish football’s whipping boys under Gary Bollan, and the notorious Central Park pitch could be something of a leveller, but, between Jamie Walker, Conor Washington, Uche Ikpeazu and Sean Clare, Hearts should have enough firepower to emerge with some kind of victory. Prediction: Cowdenbeath 1 Hearts 2
I often worry about teams changing up their starting XI en masse, regarding of the level of the opponent.
Not only can it throw them out of their rhythm, which can level the playing field against a side that are naturally going to fight harder as the heavy underdog, it can only send a subconscious message to the team that this is an opponent not to be taken too seriously.
However, even if Craig Levein does decide to follow through on his plan to give a number of fringe players a run out, this should still be a comfortable victory for the away side. Prediction: Hearts win.
Despite not taking maximum points against Dundee United, Hearts looked a level above their opponents.
Yes, they didn't create nearly enough clear-cut chances their build-up play warranted but for a first run out in a competitive fixture, I'd say the signs are encouraging.
Central Park can sometimes be a real level playing field when teams from the leagues above are in town.
The Blue Brazil have also strengthened their squad considerably ahead of their League Two campaign. However, the Jambos will be too strong for the part-timers on this occasion. Prediction: Hearts win
I think we’ll see a few changes to the Hearts team tonight - some enforced through injury and suspension - but not so many that it will serve as a disruption.
The Jambos made heavy work of their match against Dundee United, but there were elements that suggested Hearts have enough to comfortably see off lower-league opposition.
One interesting strand to the story is the presence of Hibs’ ‘keeper Kevin Dabrowski in goals - the towering Pole will no doubt want to add a second clean sheet of his loan spell at Central Park, having shut out East Fife at the weekend, and the Capital rivalry should add a bit of spice to the tie.
However, I think Hearts - regardless of personnel, the Central Park pitch, and Gary Bollan’s magic touch - should have enough to eke out a victory here. Prediction: Hearts win