COVE RANGERS 3–2 ANNAN ATHLETIC
The team finally chalked up its first home league win of the season thanks to a blistering start and a Fraser Fyvie free-kick of the highest quality. Annan hit back late on with two goals in a minute to threaten an unlikely comeback, but we saw the game out to collect a deserved three points.
Without long term absentees Luke Strachan and Josh Kerr, and the suspended Mitch Megginson, the manager made three changes from last week’s 2-2 draw at Stirling Albion. Mark Reynolds returned from illness at the back, Blair Yule in midfield, and there was a starting place up front for Scott Williamson.
Cameron Stewart and Kyle Connell were the others to miss out.
Cove broke the deadlock in just the second minute. Jacob Jones surged down the left and fed the ball infield to Connor Scully, who laid it off for Fyvie. Fraser rolled in in front of Paul McGOWAN and the midfielder took a touch before smashing a twenty-five yarder high past Greg Fleming.
It should have been two almost immediately when Mark Reynolds fired a long ball over the top to find Burrell and Williamson both running free. Rumarn got to it and rounded Fleming, but his touch took him wide, and with Scott calling for the pass, Burrell chose to shoot, his effort beaten away by the keeper.
The second goal came in our next attack. High in confidence, the team was playing some attractive football, and a good passing move saw Blair YULE run into space. The midfielder played a 1-2 with Williamson, controlled the return, then eased it beyond Fleming into the bottom corner.
Fyvie then played an inch-perfect ball over the top, Burrell got the better of Hooper and shot goalwards, but the keeper saved for a corner.
Midfielder Fyvie was then crudely fouled by Luissint, but the referee surprisingly waved play on, Annan countering with menace. Graham eventually shot from twenty yards, his effort taken easily by Nick Suman.
Back came Cove with another incisive attacking move. Gillingham played it down the right, Burrell flicked the ball on, and Sena raced to the bye-line before crossing. Fyvie’s shot was charged down for a corner.
Our next foray forward was even more impressive with six players involved as we cut through the Annan midfield. Fyvie rounded it off with a powerful shot which was pushed out, Burrell pounced on the ball, but was closed down, and when it ran to McGowan, the midfielder shot just over from twelve yards.
We might have conceded in the twenty-first minute, Garrity crossing from the left and Smith guiding a header goalwards. It appeared to be heading just inside the back post only for Nick Suman to dive full-length and claw it to safety with his outstretched left hand. It was another outstanding save by the big Aussie.
Williamson and Burrell were constantly getting in behind the visitors, the pinpoint deliveries coming generally from Reynolds or Fyvie, but the strikers were unable to capitalise, and Annan remained a threat on the counter.
Burrell had our next effort, collecting from Reynolds before being denied by Fleming, then the central defender strode purposefully forward before shooting over from thirty yards.
Seconds later, Scully threaded an accurate ball through for Williamson, who turned away from Douglas and shot powerfully. His angled effort was saved at his post by Fleming.
Williamson got in again just before the break. Fraser Fyvie drove a superb low forty yard pass into the box for the striker to run on to. He took a touch, but Fleming was quickly off his line to avert the danger.
The second half began with the weather worsening and Annan might have given themselves a lifeline when Hooper chipped into the box. Luissint ran free, but he made a poor contact and shot wide.
Burrell was then brought down thirty yards out on the right. Scully acted as the decoy and Fyvie whipped a free-kick in towards the near post, Fleming moving smartly along his line to clutch the ball.
The midfielder was to have better luck just a few minutes later.
Having wriggled away from three defenders in a mazy run, Rumarn Burrell was scythed to the ground twenty-three yards out. Again, Scully was in attendance, again Fraser FYVIE took it, and this time the midfielder curled his effort perfectly over the wall, the ball bouncing up into the roof of the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Kyle Connell came on to replace Blair Yule and was immediately involved, spinning on halfway and setting Williamson away in behind. Scott ran clear of the defenders but shot wide of the left post.
Connell and Burrell then linked-up to again free up Williamson, but this time his low drive was saved by Fleming.
Out of nowhere, Annan were suddenly back in the game, netting twice in little over sixty seconds. First, Michael GARRITY found space on the left, his low driven cross/shot deflecting off Sena to deceive Nick Suman, then Kai NUGENT made space for himself in the box and curled a fine finish low into the net.
Minutes later, Tommy Muir shot wide from close range after his challenge on Suman was apparently deemed legal by the referee.
It was to be our last scare of the afternoon and Rumarn Burrell might have extended our advantage, shooting wide from the edge of the box after being teed-up by Williamson. The players then kept the ball deep in the Annan half to run the clock down.
The winning margin should have been greater, but collecting the three points was all-important, and we could finally celebrate a first league win at Balmoral Stadium of 2023.
COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): Suman; Sena, Gillingham, Reynolds, Jones; Yule (Connell 70), McGowan, Fyvie (c), Scully; Burrell, Williamson
Substitutes: Demus, Ochmanski, Darge, Mykyta, Gallagher, Stewart
Goalscorers: McGowan (2), Yule (5), Fyvie (63)
Booked: Scully (81), Suman (83), Connell (84)
ANNAN ATHLETIC (4-2-3-1): Fleming; Gibson, Hooper (c), Douglas (Campbell 46), Kilsby (T. Muir 46); Luissint, Docherty; Graham (Nugent 66), Smith, Garrity; Goss
Substitutes: Mitchell, R. Muir, Hunter, Galloway, Johnston
Goalscorers: Garrity (77), Nugent (78)
Booked: Docherty (76), T. Muir (90)
Referee: Lloyd Wilson
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