Cove Rangers boss John Sheran said he viewed his side’s goalless stalemate in the League Two play-off final first leg as a “positive” result.
Cowdenbeath left Inverurie’s Harlaw Park still in the tie but, with the amount of chances the Granite City team had, it could have been different.
The physical Blue Brazil imposed themselves on Cove early on, but Sheran’s team should have led at half-time and came close to finding the net in the second half.
Sheran said: “When you do these two-leg things it’s a 180-minute event.
“We expected it to be tough.
“In the second half we played really well and had a number of opportunities.
“There were good saves, a bit of bad luck and things didn’t really go in for us.
“But we’ll look forward to next week and we’re ready to go again.”
Sheran could only name four substitutes, with the influential Ryan Strachan still not fit as Cove attempt to achieve their biggest target of reaching the Scottish League by the time their new Balmoral Stadium opens in Aberdeen in the summer.
The boss was happy to see his side go toe-to-toe with Cowdenbeath despite fitness challenges.
He said: “We’ve had a tough week, we had to play last Saturday, play on Tuesday – with the travelling associated with that.
“We’ve had no flexibility to change anybody because we’re just down to the bare bones.
“From that point of view we’re happy where we are.
“We see this as a positive result going into the match next Saturday and the guys will be better.”
Cowdenbeath arrived at Inverurie having lost their past four league games after a slight upturn in form in early March.
They had scored less goals in the league than Cove’s hitman Mitch Megginson has this term.
At the start of the game Jordyn Sheerin, the visitors’ well-built No 9, was beating the Cove defence to most of his side’s high balls.
Cove hadn’t quite found their rhythm in the first 25 minutes, and they’d been sucked into the more industrial style of Cowdenbeath instead of their normal fluid passing game.
On 34 minutes McManus missed a glorious chance for Cove to take the lead.
Jamie Masson flicked a throw in behind the Beath defence to him, but the veteran snatched his shot across David McGurn’s goal.
Before the break, McManus lashed another good chance from six yards over the Beath bar.
It was astonishing Cove did not take the lead on 61 minutes. Megginson danced past Bryan Gilfillan, leaving him on his backside, before squaring to Masson, whose low effort was somehow sent wide by McGurn’s outstretched left foot.
Ben Reilly came on for Cowdenbeath on 74 minutes and his first action was to aim a shot close to the right top corner, which went just wide of Stuart McKenzie’s goal, but it was an afternoon on which the Rangers keeper didn’t actually have a save to make.
Cove should certainly have ended the afternoon ahead.
They can count themselves unlucky Connor Scully didn’t score from 25 yards just 10 minutes from time.
The strike smacked off McGurn’s post, rebounding back off the keeper and out of play.
Combine this with Megginson blazing a couple of efforts over the bar from good positions inside the box in the game’s dying embers and there will surely be frustration, despite Cove still having every chance of going up.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s crunch return leg at Central Park, Sheran stressed Cowdenbeath’s qualities.
The manager, who doesn’t expect Cove’s injury situation to ease much for the game, said: “I think they’re dangerous.
“They’ve got good players going forward and the big striker’s a handful.
“I thought we defended well and if we can defend properly next week we will take one of the opportunites we create.
“Sometimes you need a little bit of luck. They got that and hopefully we will get it next week.”
Cove Rangers: Stuart McKenzie, Alan Redford, Harry Milne, Scott Ross, Eric Watson, Darryn Kelly, Daniel Park, Connor Scully, Mitch Megginson, Paul McManus, Jamie Masson.
Subs: Ryan Stott (Masson 78), Sam Robertson (McManus 81).
Subs not used: Ryan Stott, Jonathan Smith, Sam Robertson, John McCafferty.
Cowdenbeath: David McGurn, Blair Malcolm, Harvey Swann, Jamie Pyper, Bryan Gilfillan, Kyle Miller, David Cox, Robert Buchanan, Jordyn Sheerin, Bradley Smith, Brandon Luke.
Subs: Scott Rusby (Gilfillan 67), Ben Reilly (Luke 74).
Subs not used: Jordan Hornby, Matthew McInally, Blair Penman, Mark Fotheringham.
Referee: John McKendrick.