COVE RANGERS 2-3 KELTY HEARTS
Our hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Premier Sports Cup for the first time were dashed with a second successive home defeat, and a performance the manager described as “Not good enough.”
Trailing 2-0 thanks to counter-attack goals from Agyeman and McNab, Cove would have been three down but for a superb Kyle Gourlay save from an Austin penalty. Fraser Fyvie restored home hopes with a looping header, but Kelty regained their two-goal cushion when Austin finished off another speedy break. Sub Robbie Leitch added to his catalogue of spectacular finishes, and with the game in its dying embers we were denied a clear penalty when Reynolds was hauled to the ground in the box.
Jim McIntyre’s options were limited by injury with Jamie Masson joining Blair Yule on the treatment table, so the boss was able to name only four outfield substitutes.
He made three changes from the weekend loss at the hands of Livingston with Gourlay reclaiming the goalkeeping position from Stuart McKenzie, Reynolds returning in central defence at the expense of Scott Ross and Leighton McIntosh getting the nod ahead of Leitch wide right.
Our visitors arrived at Balmoral Stadium in search of their first goal and points of the campaign and very nearly scored in the opening seconds, Agyeman flashing an angled drive just wide of the far post.
They came close again soon after when Reynolds blocked a Barjonas effort after the midfielder had started, and almost finished, the next Kelty attack.
Fyvie hit back for Cove, firing in a dangerous cross which Martin knocked out for a corner.
Another cross from the midfielder was cleared desperately at the back post by Philp, and from the resultant Logan throw-in, Scully fed Fyvie. He fired towards goal, but the effort was blocked by Martin, sparking muted claims for a penalty.
Mitch Megginson then got in on the act. His deflected shot spun across the box, but from a wide angle Leighton McIntosh couldn’t quite dig out the cross, and it was diverted for a corner. Iain Vigurs swung the ball in, and Neill’s header soared wide of the back post.
Cove were getting more into the game, but always looked vulnerable to the counter, and Evan Towler recovered well to deny Agyeman. The opening goal was, however, only delayed by seconds. From a more central position, AGYEMAN turned away from his marker and curled a well-judged right foot effort beyond the reach of Gourlay’s despairing left hand.
Before we could recover, it was 2-0. Barjonas intercepted a Megginson pass in midfield and drove at the home defence. Cardle and Austin exchanged passes then fed in McNAB, whose finish matched his expertly timed run.
Cove looked rocked, but the players regathered and tried to force their way back into the match.
Morgyn Neill dropped a delightful ball over the top of the Kelty defence, Scully got to the bye line and dug out an inviting cross, but Leighton McIntosh was frustratingly inches away from connecting.
In the 29th minute, we finally got a foothold in the game. Mitch fed the ball through to McIntosh, his first cross was blocked, but the second found the mark, and FYVIE rose to send a perfectly judged looping header into the top corner.
McIntosh was then brought crashing to the ground while attempting to break and required lengthy treatment from physio Donal Gallagher before being able to continue.
Kelty mounted the next attack of the match and were handed a golden opportunity to extend their lead. Barjonas surged through the middle of the park and laid the ball into the path of Robbie McNab. As the midfielder set himself to shoot, the retreating Iain Vigurs sent him tumbling to the ground for a clear penalty.
Nathan Austin stepped up confidently and smashed his kick low and hard, only to be denied by Kyle Gourlay who made a superb stop down by his left post.
Both sides then got into dangerous crossing positions, but failed to capitalise, before Neill floated in another excellent ball, but McIntosh’s header drifted wide of the post.
Cove started the second half strongly; Fyvie, Megginson and Towler putting together a fine move before Vigurs’ thirty-yard first time effort was saved by Jamieson.
Reynolds was yellow carded for pulling down the energetic McNab, then as play surged up the other end Megginson controlled the ball on his chest, but saw his shot charged down. The captain fired in another effort which was deflected out for a throw-in, and soon after, Scully’s pass teed-up Logan, but Shay’s long range drive soared over the bar.
It was to be Cove’s last serious attempt for almost twenty minutes, and in between, Kelty moved 3-1 in front. Peggie and McNab linked-up and the midfielder’s shot was snuffed out by Reynolds, but the Fifers maintained the momentum, and after a 1-2 with Cardle which ripped apart the home defence, AUSTIN finished in composed fashion from just inside the box.
Shay Logan was seeing plenty of the ball, and following an incisive pass from Iain Vigurs, his cross was headed wide by Megginson.
As the game moved into the closing stages, lightning illuminated the sky over Balmoral Stadium, thunder rumbled ominously, and the heavens opened; the weather mirroring the dark feelings of the home fans.
With hope petering away, substitute Robbie LEITCH stepped up to the mark to continue his impressive start to the campaign. After good work by Fyvie, the forward controlled the ball and unleashed an unstoppable strike across Jamieson and inside the far post.
The players pushed desperately for a leveller, and should have been handed the opportunity deep into stoppage time.
Rory McAllister won a corner which Vigurs swung into the box, and with the ball heading his way, Reynolds was blatantly wrestled to the ground in plain sight of the referee. In the melee which followed, Logan attempted an overhead kick and caught Mark on the side of his head. The shot was cleared off the line; the defender required attention from both physios, and the club doctor.
As he was eventually being led down the tunnel, the final whistle blew to end hopes of emerging from the group.
It was a hugely disappointing performance from Cove; Kelty the deserved winners on the night.
COVE RANGERS: (4-2-1-3) Gourlay; Logan, Neill, Reynolds, Towler; Vigurs, Scully; Fyvie; McIntosh (Leitch 77 mins), McDonagh, (McAllister 65 mins), Megginson
Substitutes: McKenzie, Ross, Thomas
Goalscorers: Fyvie (29 mins), Leitch (87 mins)
Booked: Reynolds, Fyvie, Scully, Vigurs
KELTY HEARTS: (4-2-1-3) Jamieson; Philp, Forstor, Martin, Peggie; Barjonas, Tidser; McNab; Agyeman, Austin (Owens 86 mins), Cardle (Reilly 77 mins)
Substitutes: Hill, Barbour, Campbell
Goalscorers: Agyeman (16 mins), McNab (23 mins), Austin (71 mins)
Referee: Duncan Williams
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