League One / Balmoral Stadium / Attendance:
Tue 05 Mar 24 / 19:45

Cove Rangers







An incorrect offside flag right at the death cost us what might have been a valuable point against the runaway league leaders. It took Falkirk until the eighty-third minute to break the deadlock, a disciplined defensive performance having frustrated them until Miller finally found a way through.

Despite that setback, the boys responded, and Rumarn Burrell looked to have equalised only for the linesman to intervene. Replays showed the striker was clearly onside.

Blair Yule was still missing for this one, Paul McGowan was absent due to a back problem and Ola Lawal was unable to play against his parent club. On the plus side, Mark Reynolds had recovered from a calf strain and Matty Shiels passed a fitness test, but the manager was left with just four outfield players on the bench.

He made one change to the side, Mark returning to take his place in a back three.

Both sides enjoyed early possession, Reynolds and Josh Kerr intervening to repel Falkirk attacks, and it was Cove who threatened first, Sena and Mark Reynolds combining to set up Matty Shiels, but his cross was just too long for Burrell.

Arron Darge, who was to have another fine game, made a crunching tackle to stop Ross in his tracks, but the ball broke to Nesbitt who shot from twenty yards. Balint Demus made a decent save, diving to his right to clasp the ball.

Shiels then surged forward from his own half, feeding a pass into the path of Burrell, but Donaldson was able to slide the ball to safety. The central defender was again called into action soon after, clearing his lines after a promising move down the Cove left.

Falkirk stepped up a gear and forced a succession of corners. From the first of those, Darge cleared a Donaldson shot from sixteen yards just inside the post, then rushed out to charge down Nesbitt’s effort from the rebound.

Dylan Tait was cautioned for diving in the box, attempting to win a penalty, and Sena was unlucky to follow him into the book for a challenge on Morrison.

We were offering little going forward, but our defending was strong and organised, and the high-scoring Bairns were getting little joy, despite dominating the ball.

Then the side fashioned a couple of openings in the space of sixty seconds. In the first, Megginson, Burrell and Scully all linked-up before Shiels fired in a cross, but Long was able to gather with Rumarn ready to pounce, then Sena fed in Burrell, the layoff reaching Mitch Megginson. With the visitors’ defence in disarray, the ball would not fall for the skipper, and Donaldson was able to clear.

Falkirk hit back, Spencer clipping a pass through for MacIver which had Demus racing from his line to snuff out the danger, then a Yeats cross found the big striker, but under pressure from Doyle, he could only head wide.

The visitors were also on the front foot after the restart, Morrison making space for himself before shooting over from ten yards. They came closer minutes later when Nesbitt crossed and Mackie headed goalwards, his effort seeming to take a deflection and carry on the wind before bouncing off the crossbar.

Cove relieved the pressure, enjoying a period of possession, but were unable to create anything to trouble Long in the Falkirk goal.

Paul Hartley was forced into making a change midway through the half, Megginson going down injured and having to be replaced by Kyle Connell, his nineteenth substitute appearance of the season.

Mackie and Spencer had openings for Falkirk, each shooting over, then we very nearly found a way through. Connell gambled on a long ball and reached it before the keeper, laying it off towards Burrell, but as Rumarn tried to fashion a clear shooting opportunity, Long recovered in time to close him down.

Morrison was next to threaten for Falkirk, his angled shot pushed wide by Demus, but we went straight up the field and might have snatched the opener. Burrell was hacked down by Mackie, who would be booked for the challenge, but the ball ran to Kyle Connell who took a touch before unleashing a powerful twenty yard strike which cannoned back off the bar. The referee pulled play back, awarding us a free-kick which Connell curled just over.

The opening goal came seven minutes from the end.

After we had lost possession, Mackie played a pass in for substitute Calvin MILLER and his well-struck angled shot had too much power for Demus, the keeper getting his foot to the ball but unable to prevent it from flying into the net.

Burrell very nearly got on the end of a Shiels cross as we tried to restore parity, and the striker was penalised when he tried an overhead kick in the box in our next attack.

Then came the last minute heartbreak.

After Scully’s corner was cleared, Darge cleverly cushioned the ball back over the Falkirk defence to find Burrell who finished confidently. Cove celebrations were cut short when the far side assistant, Robert Mackinnon, quickly raised his flag. A review of the footage made it clear Rumarn had timed his run to perfection; the striker onside when the pass was made.

While it had been backs to the wall for the most part, the players had put in an outstanding effort, and the point would have been deserved for what had been a controlled defensive performance. The incorrect call meant we remain just outside the playoff places.

COVE RANGERS (3-5-2): Demus; Doyle, Kerr, Reynolds; Darge, Sena, Fyvie, Scully, Shiels; Burrell, Megginson (c) (Connell 67)

Substitutes: Suman, Jones, Gillingham, Stewart


Booked: Darge (9), Sena (28)

FALKIRK (4-2-3-1): Long; Yeats, Donaldson (c), Henderson, Mackie; Spencer, Tait; Morrison (Agyeman 88), Nesbitt (Oliver 80), Ross (Miller 63); MacIver (Shanley 80)

Substitutes: Hogarth, McCann, McGinn, Bisland

Goalscorers: Miller (83)

Booked: Tait (24), Mackie (74)

Referee: Chris Fordyce

Attendance: 745

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