One defeat will send Cowdenbeath out of the Scottish Professional Football League today.
It has been a rapid and depressing decline for a proud club who, only two years ago were in the Championship alongside Hearts, Hibernian and Rangers.
So how has this annus horribilis panned out to leave the future of the Blue Brazil as a senior outfit in severe doubt for the first time since 1881?
* Liam Fox. Most people think the appointment of Ian Cathro as first team coach was the decision with the most serious implications that involved Hearts. Cowdenbeath fans would say different. Fox – a youth coach at Tynecastle – was a project manager who Hearts hoped would return with experience at the sharp-end to accelerate his progression. He’s got experience, alright. And, he’s back at Hearts. But it was too much too soon for him at Central Park and when he quit in March, Cowdenbeath were cut adrift at the bottom of League Two.
* Dean Brett. Fox certainly got an education. Dean Brett saw to that. The defender got caught out for betting on his own team to lose matches in which he was playing and, after an internal investigation, was dismissed. Brett placed bets on 6,369 fixtures with 11 different bookmakers, but also bet on 65 matches involving Cowdenbeath. The club acted as sympathetically as could be expected in such circumstances, accepted the player had issues and offered to pay for the remainder of his contract.
* Too big a gap to bridge. The fact that Cowdenbeath are in the dreaded pyramid play-off does not reflect the job carried out by Gary Locke. When he took over from Fox, the team hadn’t won in 15 games and were seven points from safety at the bottom of the table. They had also been dumped out of the Scottish Cup by today’s opponents (all 10 men of them). Locke had an instant impact and Cowdenbeath still had a chance of staying up going into the last game of the season. They drew 0-0 at Elgin but, as it turned out, other results meant even a win wouldn’t have kept them up.
* Penalties. Another 0-0 draw in the first leg at East Kilbride isn’t the worst result to take back to Fife but will a penalty miss come back to haunt them? In fact, will penalty misses come back to haunt them? Incredibly, Kyle Miller’s spot-kick failure was Cowden’s SIXTH in a row. If today’s second leg goes all the way to a shoot-out, finding volunteers might not be an easy job for Locke.