GARY LOCKE insists he was ‘gutted’ to see Raith Rovers suffer relegation last weekend but is optimistic Cowdenbeath will not suffer the same fate.
Locke was sacked by Rovers in February and appointed at Cowdenbeath just a few weeks later, charged with turning around fortunes at a club seven points adrift at the bottom of League Two and fighting for their SPFL future.
In the end, it proved too big a gap to make up and, after their goalless first-leg against Lowland League winners East Kilbride, the Blue Brazil now have just one game to make sure they stay in the senior leagues.
Fife witnessed one calamitous result last Saturday, when Raith dropped out of the Championship with a penalty-kicks defeat to Brechin City in their dramatic play-off, and Locke is eager for smiles to replace tears in the Kingdom this afternoon.
Locke, who was in charge when Hearts suffered their administration-induced relegation, told @CCP_sport: “Obviously, I was gutted for Raith. I always look out for all my old teams.
“I enjoyed my time at all the clubs I’ve been at and I was obviously very disappointed to leave Raith. I was hurting at the fact they didn’t manage to beat Brechin last week.
“I knew when I took the Cowdenbeath job that it was going to be a tough ask, but I like a challenge and if I could keep them up it would be a fantastic achievement.
“We did look dead and buried a few weeks ago, but I just hope we can get the right result.
“Having looked at the game last week, there’s nothing between the two teams; it’s going to be close.
“I just hope we can win the game, mainly for the people I’ve got to know at the club. It means an awful lot to them and it would be great to keep them up.
“If we get beat, the consequences of dropping down to the Lowland League would be tough.
“There would still be a club but it would be a huge blow and hopefully we can keep them in the league.
“We’ve got one game, it’s a cup final, and we’ve got to make sure we win it.”
Cowdenbeath passed up a gilt-edged chance to go into Saturday’s match with an advantage after Kyle Miller saw his late penalty saved at K-Park.
And, with a dreadful recent record from the spot, Locke is hoping for a reversal of fortune if the tie goes all the way to penalties.
He added: “We’ve missed our last six penalties, so I certainly wasn’t surprised at the outcome last week, that’s for sure.
“But we’ve practised penalties at training and hopefully if it does go down to that we’ve got the boys who will go up and be man enough to hit the penalty.
“East Kilbride are a really good side, but hopefully it doesn’t go that far and we get the job done.”