COVE RANGERS 1–1 PARTICK THISTLE
A heartbreaking end at Balmoral cost us two points, with goalkeeper Jamie Sneddon the improbable Partick hero as he headed home from a corner in the fifth minute of stoppage time. We had led from early on, Mitch Megginson finishing off an impressive move, but spurned golden chances to extend our advantage, and were made to pay in the dying seconds.
Jack Sanders and Max Johnston had returned to the side with Shay Logan moving across to left back, and Scott Ross and Evan Towler dropping out. Connor Scully, fresh from signing his new contract, started after being rested last week, with Fraser Fyvie on the bench.
The team began brightly and on the front foot. Inside the first minute, Luis Longstaff darted to the bye-line and stood up an inviting cross which Sneddon got a despairing hand to, Charlie Gilmour hooked the ball back into the six yard box, but Brownlie hacked it clear.
Thistle came close in the fourth minute. Turner collected inside the Cove half and fed Cammy Smith, who turned and shot from thirty yards, Stuart McKenzie diving to his right to make a good save, pushing the ball wide.
Within a couple of minutes, the opening goal came at the other end.
Mark Reynolds began the move deep inside his own half, pinging an accurate ball forward to McDonagh. Gerry controlled it in the centre circle, turned, and passed wide to Longstaff, who immediately set up Max Johnston. The full back raced to the line and crossed, and when the ball fell for Mitch MEGGINSON, the captain did not hesitate, hammering a ten-yard strike which Sneddon got a hand to, but was beaten by the ferocity of the shot.
There was an injury scare in the eleventh minute, when Mitch required treatment, but was able to continue, and Shay Logan also looked in difficulty.
Blair Yule found Megginson wide on the left, and the striker showed a lovely piece of skill before passing to Scully. Connor’s cross was slightly overhit, but had Sneddon scrambling, and the keeper clawed it away with Longstaff and Gilmour lurking.
Slack defending offered Partick some hope, but when Lawless crossed from the right, McKenzie was able to push the ball to safety.
Logan’s long running calf injury was playing up, and he was replaced midway through the half by Fraser Fyvie, with Scully dropping back to the left side of defence.
The combination of Johnston and Longstaff has been profitable for Cove in recent weeks, and after another link-up, Max crossed dangerously. Megginson just failed to make contact, Muirhead nudged the ball away, and it fell invitingly for Fyvie who controlled it, but dragged his angled shot wide of the far post.
In the thirty-third minute Harry Milne wriggled past Longstaff and delivered to the back post where Graham made contact, but directed his effort back across and wide of McKenzie’s right post. Milne caused more problems soon after, Stuart snuffing out the danger by grabbing the ball at the second time of asking.
Mitch then had two attempts in quick order. From a throw-in on the left, Yule laid the ball off, the skipper shooting wide from twenty yards, then Fyvie’s pass was set-up by McDonagh, and this time Megginson brought out a fine save from Sneddon down low at his post.
Ian McCall made two half-time changes, Bannigan and Mullen replacing Lawless and Smith, and it nearly paid off for him in the fiftieth minute. From a drop ball awarded by referee MacLean, it was lifted into the box for Graham to nod down. Mullen reacted first and fired goalwards from close range, but McKenzie was quickly off his line to make a fine save.
Longstaff had a shot deflected over, then Fyvie’s inviting cross was clutched by the keeper before Cove passed up an outstanding opportunity. Following a mistake on the halfway line, Gerry McDonagh raced away clear in behind. As Sneddon left his line, the big striker had a decision to make, and decided to try to round the keeper, but the Thistle man got a hand to it, and the ball was booted clear.
Another good move ended in disappointment just before the hour mark. After brilliant hold-up play, Megginson passed to Yule who fed the ball wide. Longstaff gathered, cut inside, then unleashed a powerful shot which Sneddon saved well for a corner.
Megginson and Yule were involved again minutes later, but the captain’s twenty-five yard drive was easily gathered by the keeper.
With Thistle trying to find a way back into the match, Jim McIntyre countered by switching to a back three. Scott Ross replaced Longstaff, Fyvie adopted the left wingback role, and Scully moved forward to be the extra man in midfield, his third position of the game.
Leighton McIntosh came on for McDonagh, then Fyvie had a snapshot from the edge of the box, Sneddon clutching it at the second attempt. Fraser tried again in the seventy-seventh minute, but the keeper saved by his post.
The Firhill side were pushing hard now, and our defence looked to be dropping deeper to try to frustrate them. Substitute Weston fired a volley goalwards, which looked to be going in, but Mark Reynolds produced an excellent block to maintain the lead.
As the game ticked into stoppage time, there was another glaring opportunity for us to kill it off.
In a quick counter, Megginson gathered inside the Thistle half and split the defence for McIntosh to race on to, but Leighton failed to make the most of the one-on-one, and between them, Sneddon and Muirhead held him up, then cleared the danger.
Jack Sanders, who would be named man of the match, made a succession of clearing headers, and it appeared the side would hold out, but with referee Steven MacLean inexplicably allowing the game to roll into a fifth minute of additional time, Partick won a corner on the right.
Bannigan sent in an inviting delivery and keeper SNEDDON, having raced eighty yards up the pitch, rose to direct the ball into the net with a well-judged glancing header to break home hearts.
It was the most dramatic of finishes to a game we should have long since sewn-up, and another reminder of just how tough and demanding the Championship is.
COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): McKenzie; Johnston, Sanders, Reynolds, Logan (Fyvie 23); Longstaff (Ross 69), Yule, Gilmour, Scully; Megginson (c), McDonagh (McIntosh 72)
Substitutes: Gourlay, Towler, Neill, Masson, Vigurs, Dunne,
Goalscorers: Megginson (6)
Booked: Fyvie (75)
PARTICK THISTLE (4-3-3): Sneddon; McMillan (Fitzpatrick 81), Brownlie, Muirhead (c), Milne; Turner, Hodson, McKinnon (Weston 74); Lawless (Bannigan 46), Graham, Smith (Mullen 46)
Substitutes: McCready, Akinola, Stanway, Lyon,
Goalscorers: Sneddon (90)
Booked: Bannigan (77)
Referee: Steven McLean
Article Copyright © 2022. Permission to use quotations from this article online is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and to www.coverangersfc.com