Shots on target
Two stunning strikes from Robbie Leitch and Connor Scully ensured we were able to battle back from a goal down to win our opening Premier Sports Cup Group G fixture at the Reigart Stadium.
Leitch lashed home the equaliser just before the interval after Mark Reynolds had the misfortune to net the own goal that had given League Two Rovers the lead on the half hour.
Scully then secured the three points from a brilliantly created, as well as executed, second goal, although the fact our hosts gave us a few scary moments towards the end served as a reminder there is still work to be done.
The tie actually ended in bizarre fashion, with referee Stuart Luke ruling out a cheekily taken Rory McAllister penalty to prevent a wider winning margin.
But the two super strikes from midfielders Leitch and Scully were enough to ensure manager Jim McIntyre was victorious in his first competitive game in charge.
It was a lovely, sunny, summer’s night in Coatbridge and the first chance of note came in the sixth minute, when Fraser Fyvie fed a free-kick in from wide on the right and Leitch steered a 10-yard shot wide of the front post.
Cove were unlucky not to go ahead two minutes later.
Fyvie fired a corner over from the left and Scully’s header from the edge of the six yard box was brilliantly saved by home keeper Jack Leighfield.
Fyvie took the resulting corner, from the other side, and the chaos that caused inside the home area ended with Leighton McIntosh nodding wide from around eight-yards.
Albion had a chance in the 13th minute when Michael Paton broke clear from halfway, but Scott Ross used his pace to race back and make an excellent blocking tackle inside the penalty area.
Mitch Megginson then had an eighteen-yard shot held by Leighfield as play switched to the other end.
The home side threatened again when Charlie Reilly crossed from the right, but Scott Roberts failed to get enough power on his eight-yard shot and it was easily gathered by Kyle Gourlay.
Megginson also had strong effort from the edge of the box saved by Leighfield as the lively start to the game continued.
Leitch came close to scoring in the 21st minute when his shot from just inside the Albion area was hooked away from the line by Blair Malcolm.
Callum Wilson also went close for Albion soon after, skipping away from Fyvie during a strong run through the middle. The midfielder than smacked a twenty-yard shot inches wide of Gourlay’s right post.
Albion went ahead on the half-hour when Reilly fired a corner from the left and REYNOLDS, attempting to clear the ball away from Paton deep inside the six yard box, could only steer his header into the Cove net.
The stadium announcer gave the goal to Paton, which Reynolds would no doubt have been happy to do as well, but the Cove central defender clearly got the final touch.
Ross almost grabbed the equaliser within four minutes when his acrobatic back-post header, from another Fyvie corner, only just cleared the Albion crossbar.
Our eye-catching leveller came in the 42nd minute.
Fyvie’s corner from the left was cleared out into the path of LEITCH and he gave Leighfield no hope with a screamer of a right foot shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Cove’s first chance of the second period was in the 50th minute, when Shay Logan’s lobbed cross from the right reached McIntosh and his six yard header was saved by the home keeper.
McIntosh and Megginson then combined to get the ball to Fyvie and his looping header from 16-yards wasn’t too far off target.
Fyvie spotted Logan breaking into the Albion area in the 57th minute and sent a great pass through to him, but the full-back’s shot, from the edge of the six yard box, flew wide.
Jamie Masson replaced Leighton McIntosh before Cove took the lead in style in the 66th minute.
A long ball out of the Cove defence was deftly flicked back by McDonagh to Megginson, just outside the Albion area.
Without hesitation, the Cove skipper laid the ball off perfectly for SCULLY to control on the run before turning to unleash a spectacular 19-yard shot beyond Leighfield for a goal worthy of winning any game.
Iain Vigurs replaced the limping Megginson before the restart.
Leighfield kept Albion in the game when he beat away Fyvie’s net-bound drive a couple of minutes later.
McAllister replaced Gerry McDonagh in the 73rd minute.
Ross tried his luck from distance with ten minutes to go, but his effort went well over the Albion crossbar.
Cove slackened off in the latter stages and it almost proved costly.
Albion scorned a glorious chance to equalise in the 82nd minute when Reilly broke into the area. The winger appeared to get in a tangle with team-mate Amaury Testa, who poked his shot from inside the area wide.
It then took a top notch save from Gourlay to deny Rovers the leveller.
He stretched to touch Barry Duncan’s 18-yard shot over the crossbar as the home side piled players forward.
The late drama continued when Wilson battered his close range shot off the face of the Cove crossbar from the resulting corner, which was followed by Gourlay grabbing a header from Ayrton Sonkur right on his line.
Evan Towler was booked for fouling Wilson in the last minute before the curious ending came.
Albion defender Sonkur was upset when the referee awarded a penalty against him for tripping Logan inside the area, two minutes into injury-time.
McAllister paused his run-up while taking the kick, which led to Leighfield diving in one direction before the Cove striker calmly rolled the ball in at the other side.
Unfortunately, referee Luke chalked the effort off, because he judged the striker had duped the keeper illegally, although countless similar penalties have been permitted in the past.
McAllister appeared as bemused as the rest of us as he wandered off down the tunnel at the end, but thankfully the decision had no bearing on the final result.
ALBION ROVERS (4-1-4-1): Leighfield; Fernie, Fagan, Sonkur, Malcolm; Fleming; Reilly, Wilson, Kidd (Dolan 62), Roberts (Testa 76); Paton (Duncan 62),
Subs: McColl, Sandberg.
COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): Gourlay; Logan, Ross, Reynolds, Towler; McIntosh (Masson 60), Fyvie, Scully, Leitch; McDonagh (McAllister 73), Megginson (Vigurs 67)
Subs: McKenzie, Neill, Thomas.
Referee: Stuart Luke.