Home patch central to Cowdenbeath's league survival

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Sport Scotland
Central Park, Cowdenbeath
Central Park - home to Cowdenbeath FC - first opened its gates in 1917

Referee John McKendrick's full-time whistle only concluded half of the activity at Central Park last Saturday.

Cowdenbeath and Falkirk settled for a point apiece in a 2-2 draw.

In turn, supporters, journalists, players and club officials gradually shuffled towards the exits.

But there was no steward waiting impatiently to slam the final fire door shut.

The only slamming going on was by an industrial plant vehicle flipping huge rubber tractor tyres into place, which helped transform the perimeter of Central Park into a stock car racing track.

Outside, a plethora of ageing, multi-coloured Mini Coopers emblazoned with sponsors and numbers prepared for what would undoubtedly be a night of thrills and spills.

Inside, a large, petrol-headed crowd replaced the 1,074 who had watched the Blue Brazil improve on last season's start to the Championship campaign.

I didn't hang around to see how challenging Central Park would be for the racing car drivers, but it certainly proved to be a tricky venue for Falkirk.

Peter Houston on Central Park
"A lot of people think coming to Cowdenbeath is a guaranteed three points. I don't see it that way and I don't think it will be for any team that comes here. They're a hard working side who close down spaces. I'm sure when Rangers, Hibs and Hearts come here they'll have a tough, tough match. It's a tight pitch - not the longest - and very, very hard to get it down and play. You've got to give your respect to Cowdenbeath because this isn't an easy venue to come to."

On paper, most felt last season's Premiership play-off semi-finalists would've had enough to trundle back home from Fife with all three points.

However, by 16:45, Peter Houston's men were just grateful to have a share of the spoils after trailing twice in the match to a side who are having to make do without last season's 40-goal forward partnership of Kane Hemmings and Greg Stewart.

"It's really encouraging," said Cowdenbeath manager Jimmy Nicholl.

"And I've got another two or three players coming in to strengthen what I've already got.

"I said to the players I want them to be harder to beat. We conceded a lot of goals last season and that's why we could never get away from the foot of the table.

"If we're hard to beat and disciplined and organised, there's enough football in the team to go out and get some good results this year."

As Cowdenbeath contend with the likes of Rangers, Hearts and Hibs this season, their home patch will need to become a fortress as well as a racing circuit.

Central Park, Cowdenbeath
Cowdenbeath's Central Park stadium doubles up as a stock car racing venue

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