Next fixture
Championship / Balmoral Stadium / Attendence:
Sat 20 Aug 22 / 14:00

Cove Rangers




Ayr United



A disjointed and lacklustre performance saw Cove lose a league game at Balmoral Stadium for the first time in fifteen months, the defeat made even more painful by the loss of three key men through injury.

With Blair Yule still sidelined because of his ankle problem, and Evan Towler unavailable through illness, boss Jim McIntyre made two changes to the side beaten in Inverness last weekend, and went with his favoured back four set-up.

Morgyn Neill and Jamie Masson dropped to the bench, with new signing Charlie Gilmour handed a debut and Iain Vigurs restored to the midfield.

Ayr United went into the match as one of just two unbeaten sides in the division, draws with Arbroath and Hamilton either side of their remarkable comeback away to Queen’s Park. They were to end the day at the top of the Championship table.

In bright sunshine, Cove forced an early corner, which came to nothing, but the home side were soon on the back foot, as Ayr took a grip on proceedings.

In the sixth minute, a Scott Ross challenge on O’Connor was penalised, but Dempsey’s long range free-kick soared over the bar.

Soon after, Murdoch and O’Connor linked-up nicely, Akinyemi teased Reynolds before dinking a cross to the back post and Ashford was left with a free header. His effort however lacked conviction, and Kyle Gourlay was able to gather.

A poor clearance by Vigurs offered the visitors another opening, but as Ashford burst through, Ross stopped him in his tracks with a well-timed challenge.

It was all Ayr United at this point, and Akinyemi came agonisingly close to opening the scoring, his well struck angled shot from the edge of the box crashing back off the face of the crossbar.

Cove were finding it almost impossible to get any worthwhile possession, and all too often our passing was poor, even when promising situations arose.

With eighteen minutes on the clock, Mitch Megginson went down clutching his left hamstring, but was able to continue after treatment from physio Donal Gallagher.

Our central defence was struggling to cope with the Ayr front line, and after Mark Reynolds was caught out, Ross had to be alert to block Ashford, the ball breaking to Akinyemi, whose shot flew wide.

That was to be Scott’s last contribution; after some treatment inside the box, he limped off to be replaced by Morgyn Neill.

Cove’s best moment of the game came in the thirty-third minute. Gilmour speared a long diagonal pass from inside his own half, Leitch flicked the ball beyond Reading, but as Robbie tried to apply the finishing touch, keeper Albinson came rushing off his line to make the save.

It took a superb last-ditch challenge by Logan to prevent Akinyemi from getting a shot in, and soon after, the big striker jinked into the danger area to unleash a powerful drive which Gourlay did well to beat away.

The home side finally showed some resistance, and very nearly snatched the lead on the stroke of half-time. Dunne and Megginson worked well down the left to tee-up Scully. His cross found Leitch at the back post, and the winger’s effort looked in all the way, only for Dempsey to clear off his line. As the ball bobbled around, Fyvie was quickest to react, but his hook shot soared just wide of the left post.

The half ended with Mitch requiring more treatment; he would not reappear after the break, Gerry McDonagh taking over as Cove’s spearhead in attack.

Ayr continued to look the more dangerous side, and Akinyemi drove over from 25 yards after a short free-kick from Reading. The Englishman then skipped away from Neill to set the ball on a plate for McKenzie eight yards out. Gourlay saved the midfielder’s first shot, then Reynolds blocked his second from the rebound. In doing so, Mark was injured, and the physio was on for the fourth time in the game.

The next Ayr attack saw Murdoch fire in a cross which appeared to hit the arm of Cieran Dunne, but the referee waved play on, and Gourlay was out quickly to gather the ball at the feet of the onrushing Ashford.

Cove attacks were few and far between, the quality of the passing and movement bitterly disappointing, and the visiting goalkeeper had rarely been troubled with almost an hour on the clock.

It was at that point the deadlock was finally broken, albeit Ayr were able to do so thanks to what looked a harsh penalty call from referee Lambie. O’Connor’s driven cross from the left struck Mark Reynolds on the arm from close range and the official was quick to sound his whistle. DEMPSEY coolly rolled the ball into the net as Gourlay dived to his right.

In a rare foray forward, Scully won a free-kick out on the left. Vigurs swung the ball into the box, it was half-cleared only as far as Fraser Fyvie, but the midfielder’s firmly struck shot was blocked.

Jim McIntyre then rung the changes, McIntosh and Longstaff on for Vigurs and Leitch, but before the substitutes could get involved, it was two-nil.

More shocking defending allowed Ayr space in and around the penalty area, and as the ball bounced across the box, not a single home player was alert enough, allowing AKINYEMI the simple task of dinking it past Gourlay from close range.

Kyle then had to dive low to grab an O’Connor twenty-yarder at his left post.

In the aftermath of that attack, Mark Reynolds again went down injured, and he too had to limp off, Scully dropping into central defence with substitute Jamie Masson taking Connor’s role on the left.

With ten minutes left, Logan and Scully got in a mix-up, allowing Akinyemi to roll through a pass for O’Connor, but Gourlay rushed out to save.

With the game deep into injury-time, we finally made the breakthrough. As McDonagh gathered the ball just inside the box, and tried to turn, his legs were swept from him by Houston for a clear penalty.

Jamie MASSON stepped-up and made a consummate job from the spot, driving the ball just inside Albinson’s left post. It was to be nothing more than a consolation, and in truth, put a more respectable gloss on the scoreline than the performance deserved.

COVE RANGERS (4-4-1-1): Gourlay; Logan, Ross (Neill 30), Reynolds (Masson 75), Dunne; Leitch (Longstaff 67), Gilmour, Vigurs (McIntosh 67), Scully; Fyvie; Megginson(c) (McDonagh 46)

Substitutes: McKenzie, Thomas

Goalscorers: Masson (pen, 90)


AYR UNITED (4-4-1-1): Albinson; Houston, Musonda, Kirk, Reading; O’Connor (Ecrepont 88), Murdoch(c), Dempsey, Ashford (Bangala 86); McKenzie (McGinty 90); Akinyemi

Substitutes: McConnell, Hewitt, Smith, McAllister, Moffat, Bilham,

Goalscorers: Dempsey (pen, 59), Akinyemi (68)


Referee: Scott Lambie

Attendance: 951

Article Copyright © 2022. Permission to use quotations from this article online is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and to