Match Report: Cowdenbeath 1 Sheffield United 1

Cowdenbeath v  Sheffield United. 'Pic : Martyn Harrison.
Cowdenbeath v Sheffield United. 'Pic : Martyn Harrison.
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They might be little in terms of stature and profile.

But, as Colin Cameron had warned on the eve of this fixture, Cowdenbeath possess a might big heart.

And so it proved as, having seen Sheffield United take the lead courtesy of Chris Porter’s strike, the Scottish First Division club claimed a share of the spoils when Jordan Mortonpounced just past the hour.

Having earlier described United’s Scottish trip as a voyage of discovery, David Weir underlined his point by making a flurry of changes throughout Saturday’s contest at Central Park.

“It’s all about getting minutes and miles into the boys’ legs at the moment,” he said. “That and finding out exactly what we’ve got and how we can best make it work.

Nevertheless, despite seeing Porter score for the second time in as many outings following his penalty at Greenock Morton in midweek, Weir knows that coaxing more goals out of a forward line which lost its way for long periods last season remains his priority ahead of next month’s meeting with Notts County.

With that in mind, he is ready to offer repreives to those frozen out by the previous regime. Richard Cresswell and Marcus Williams were also among those to enjoy prominent roles here.

“I’ve got no preconceived ideas about anyone. No agendas, and it’s important that is the case,” Weir, the United manager, continued.

“As far as I’m concerned, everyone here has got a clean slate. A fresh start.

“We want to give them all a chance because we know there is talent there and we’ve also brought some talent in.

“For me, what’s happened before isn’t really the issue. What people do now, what they show us during this pre-season, is.”

The purpose of this excercise was for Weir, still less than a month into his reign at Bramall Lane, to reveal more about the players and permeatations at United’s disposal.

Losing Michael Doyle to injury after barely a quarter of an hour prevented the visitors’ captain from catching the former Everton defender’s eye.

But with Elliott Whitehouse a tenacious presence in central midfield, where Febian Brandy and Kevin McDonald provided the imagination to complement the youngster’s invention, Weir returned to United’s base on the banks of the Clyde with plenty to consider.

Brandy, signed following his departure from Walsall to inject some much-needed pace and trickery into United’s attack, revealed his fiercely competitive streak with a scything challenge on Cowdenbeath’s Thomas O’Brien midway through the opening period.

But while the action continued to ebb towards Thomas Flynn’s goal - Jamie Murphy and Sean McGinty peppering the hosts’ area with a series of raking crosses - Cameron’s charges fashioned two clear-cut chances moments before Porter pounced.

Greg Stewart, a strapping centre-forward, should have found a teammate after making progress down the flank while Marc McKenzie saw a shot bobble just past Mark Howard’s far post after breaking the offside trap.

Porter, though, nipped Cowdenbeath’s growing confidence in the bud by forcing home following Murphy’s corner.

“These outings are all part of a process,” Weir said. “Identifying those areas that we are happy with and also those that we aren’t.

“We’ve been training the boys hard.

“We wanted a physically demanding game and that’s exactly what we got, which, from our perspective, was very good.

“We’re building up, slowly but surely, by getting all of the boys out there on the pitch. That’s how we’ll carry on until we get to the levels we are trying to achieve.”

Jahmal Smith, responsible for winning the set-piece which led to Porter’s effort, was the sole player of the 11 which had finished the first half to start the second.

Joe Ironside made his presence felt by drawing a smart save from the Cowdenbeath goalkeeper but, at the other end, George Willis was powerless to prevent Morton from clawing themselves level with a delicious finish.

“I know people always say this but the scoreline here really wasn’t the most important thing,” Weir continued. “That’s not the biggest objective.

“Piece by piece it’s about working together and finding out about each other. Getting those fitness levels up and understanding the systems and formulae that are going to suit us and serve us well at a later stage.”

Cameron, a colleague of Weir’s for Scotland and Hearts, led Cowdenbeath to promotion during his first campaign at the helm before helping them avoid relegation on the final day of the second.

He made nearly 200 appearances for Wolverhampton Wanderers ahead of a move to Coventry City seven years ago, and his former club’s presence in League One next term means United must hit the ground running when competition resumes on August 2nd.

“It’s amazing when you look at the size of some of the names that are going to be in that division,” Cameron said. “On paper, there seems to be very little to choose between quite a few of them.

“That’s why the small details are so important, those tiny things which can make a huge difference to how things turn out.

“It’s a long hard slog now and nothing is won early on. Even so, if things didn’t go your way last time out, it’s still vitally important not to feel sorry for yourselves and to try and hit the ground running because you don’t want to be playing catch-up at the end.”

COWDENBEATH: Flynn (Trialist 46), Cowan (Brett 46), Adamson (Pyper 72), Wedderburn (Miller 46, Callaghan 70), Armstrong, O’Brien, Stevenson, Ramsay (Russell 46), McKenzie (Milne 46), Stewart (Trialist 65), Morton (Nicholson 77).

UNITED (FIRST HALF): Howard, Westlake, Maguire, Higginbotham, McGinty, Whitehouse, Doyle (Smith 12), McDonald, Brandy, Murphy, Porter.

UNITED (SECOND HALF): Willis, Hodder, Collins, Hill, Williams, Smith (Whitehouse 66), McGinn, McFadzean, Ironside, Cresswell, Kayara.

REFEREE: D Robertson.

GOALS: Porter (44), Morton (64).