COVE RANGERS 1–2 MORTON
Our Championship adventure ended on a disappointing night during which the farcical conditions – the stadium was shrouded in thick fog throughout – made it almost impossible to see what was happening on the pitch.
Morton took an early lead, cancelled out by a Declan Glass wonder strike, and when the visitors were reduced to ten men, a Cove win looked likely, but we spurned numerous chances, and lost out to a deflected Muirhead effort with seventeen minutes remaining.
With Jackson Longridge failing to recover from injury, Paul Hartley handed a first start in four months to Declan Glass, who had made an impact as a substitute in last week’s goalless draw at Dens. He could name just four on the bench, but the good news was the return to the starting line-up of top scorer Leighton McIntosh.
Typical of the bad luck that has plagued us all season, Leighton’s comeback lasted just nineteen minutes, and his replacement, Cieran Dunne, also had to leave the field injured midway through the second half.
With the players barely discernible through the gloom, the away side grabbed the opener in the second minute when a corner from the right found the head of Jack BAIRD, who powered the ball beyond Scott Fox.
Muirhead then had a goal disallowed and Blues shot over as Morton dominated the early stages, but Cove hit back, and after a move in which Megginson and McIntosh combined, Glass had his effort saved.
Midway through the half, the visibility worsened, and it became harder to follow play, but we were enjoying plenty possession without being able to make a breakthrough.
Declan GLASS had another effort clutched by Schwake, but the midfielder had better luck soon after. Picking the ball up inside the Morton half, he let fly from thirty yards, and the ball soared into the top corner.
With Arbroath and Hamilton 0-0 at half-time, it was a scoreline that would have clinched a play-off place for Cove.
Our hopes brightened further in the forty-ninth minute when Cameron Blues was sent off having picked up a second yellow for a late lunge on Scott Ross.
We then enjoyed a period of concerted pressure and should have snatched the lead.
Cieran Dunne found himself free in the box but shot into the side netting, Connor Scully was inches away from connecting with a Mitch Megginson pass, the captain had a shot blocked, then Glass saw his effort from the edge of the box saved by the visiting keeper.
The biggest opportunity came just past the hour mark when Mitch threaded a pass into the box and Scully ran on to it, but Schwake was quickly off his line, and saved the midfielder’s effort.
Weston and Glass then had shots dealt with by the Morton keeper, and Megginson headed over from ten yards.
With the game moving into its closing stages, and our rivals still goalless at Gayfield, out of nothing the visitors went ahead. Robbie MUIRHEAD gathered thirty yards out and fired goalwards, the ball deflecting off a Cove defender and spinning beyond Fox.
The players desperately pushed forward, but failed to create another clear cut opportunity, and after five minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew the final whistle, signalling an end to our first evert tilt at Championship football.
As he reflected afterwards, manager Paul Hartley accepted the campaign as a whole had not been good enough and pledged there would be big changes over the summer as the club regroups and readies itself for next season’s promotion bid.
COVE RANGERS: (4-2-3-1) Fox; Ross, Neill, Reynolds, Logan (Bangala 84); Vigurs, Scully; McIntosh (Dunne 19) (Weston 67), Glass, Longstaff; Megginson (c)
Goalscorers: Glass (45)
Booked: Ross (50)
MORTON: (4-2-3-1) Schwake; Grimshaw, Baird, O’Connor, Miller; R. Crawford, Gillespie (c) (Pignatiello 47); Quitongo (King 63), A. Crawford (McGrattan 63), Blues; Muirhead
Substitutes: Green, Ambrose, Garrity
Goalscorers: Baird (2), Muirhead (73)
Booked: Blues (37)
Sent off: Blues (49)
Referee: Craig Napier
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