Ola Adeyemo and Jamie Masson came off the bench to play key roles as we left it late to see off a stubborn Albion Rovers side in a tense SPFL Trust Trophy tie at Balmoral Stadium.
Adeyemo made a remarkable debut appearance by helping us win a tie that was goal-less until the 79th minute and looked destined to be decided via a penalty shoot-out.
The former Dundee United forward’s strength and powerful running, while playing on the right as opposed to his preferred out and out striker role, knocked the well drilled Rovers defence out of their stride.
Masson benefited by scoring with a soaring header off a top drawer cross from his fellow sub, with the in-form Rory McAllister grabbing a dandy double to push his tally for the season up to 11 goals.
Skipper Mitch Megginson also ended his recent mini-drought by scoring the opener as we eventually secured a home quarter-final clash with Alloa Athletic or Rangers B, who meet later this month.
We made several changes to the starting line-up in an effort to give players some much needed minutes.
Unfortunately, the first half was as driech as the weather, with very little on show to take the minds of the 325 fans inside Balmoral off the drizzle soaking many of them.
Albion had the best of what chances there were in that first period.
Callum Wilson beat Harry Milne to the ball in the sixth minute and raced clear, but then sliced his shot from the edge of the area wide of the target.
We responded with Connor Scully clipping the ball to Robbie Leitch and his volley was held by visiting keeper Cameron Binnie.
Fraser Fyvie attempted to liven up proceedings by making an impressive run down the right in the 23rd minute.
He powered his way past two challenges, but the referee then judged Leitch had committed a foul when he attempted to get to Fyvie’s cross at the back post.
Michael Mullen had another go for Rovers with a shot that rolled wide of Kyle Gourlay’s left post before a dull half ended with Blair Yule’s 18-yard shot being held by Binnie.
Albion forced their first corner of the game, in the 49th minute, and might have scored from it but for an excellent defensive header from Morgyn Neill, at the back post, to clear David Wilson’s cross from the left.
Our best move so far came a couple of minutes later, when Leitch played a clever one-two with Megginson, but his net bound shot bounced clear off McAllister as the big striker did his best to get out of the way.
Adeyemo and Masson were introduced in the 55th minute and the improvement in our play was instant.
Within a minute, Adeyemo had pinched the ball off an opponent then fed it down the right wing to Yule. His cross reached Megginson at the front post and his deft header went inches wide.
You could sense the excitement in the crowd every time Adeyemo got on the ball, and he tested Binnie with a powerful 22-yard shot in the 63rd minute.
Masson fed a corner in from the left five minutes later and Binnie did well to beat away a powerful header from Neill.
Masson tried again from another corner and this time it was McAllister who forced Binnie to save his cheeky flick-on at the front post.
Adeyemo created more havoc in the 77th minute when he used his strength to brush aside a defender then fed the ball to Yule and his cross was scrambled clear by Binnie at the edge of his six-yard box.
The opener finally arrived with 11 minutes to go, from a move that was possible thanks once again to Adeyemo winning the ball, over on the right.
When it was eventually fed over to the other side of the park Milne played it forward to McAllister and his neat lay-off was battered home by MEGGINSON.
It was almost 2-0 a minute later when Masson’s cross from the left reached Adeyemo and his header was pushed wide for a corner by Binnie.
We forced another corner from that and when Masson swept over the second one McALLISTER netted with a well placed header at the back post.
Adeyemo was the architect of our third goal, scored in the 86th minute.
His excellent cross from wide on the right was perfect for MASSON to rise above the Rovers defence and score with a header that gave Binnie no chance.
Within a minute it was 4-0.
Megginson played a pass through to McALLISTER and he was as cool as ice as he dragged the ball away from a defender before calmly stroking it into the bottom corner from 14-yards.
Max WRIGHT netted a consolation for Rovers, when he raced clear to slot past Gourlay deep into injury-time, but that didn’t prevent Adeyemo and Masson receiving loud applause from the home fans as they made their way off the pitch at the end.
COVE RANGERS: Gourlay, Neill, Milne, Scully, Ross, Yule, Megginson, McIntosh (Adeyemo 55), McAllister, Leitch (Masson 55), Fyvie.
Subs: McKenzie, Anderson.
ALBION ROVERS: Binnie, Lynas, L Wilson (El Zubaidi 58), McGowan, Fagan, Leslie, C Wilson, D Wilson, Doherty, O’Donnell (Sweeney 78), Mullen (Wright 65).
Subs: Fernie, Robinson, Smith, McVey.
Referee: Graham Grainger.Albion Rovers Reaction | Ola & The Manager »