COVE RANGERS 1-2 MORTON
Our unbeaten run ended on a miserable afternoon at Balmoral as Morton took the honours from a game largely ruined by the strong winds which whipped across the stadium.
Kabia opened for the visitors, although his goal should have been ruled out for offside, Leighton McIntosh headed a late Cove equaliser, but Crawford won it with an even later volley from the edge of the box.
There was one change to the side which fought out a battling 1-1 draw with Arbroath at Gayfield, Luis Longstaff returning from injury on the right, allowing Fraser Fyvie to support Gerry McDonagh up front, in place of the suspended Mitch Megginson.
Kyle McClelland was still sidelined and Evan Towler away on Scotland under-19 duty.
It became clear right from kick-off that this was not going to be a classic ninety minutes. With the wind in their faces Morton found it hard to clear their lines, and with the gale behind them the Cove players struggled to gauge it, the ball regularly taking off and running away from what initially seemed like good passes.
Fyvie tested Schwake’s handling early on, whipping a free-kick in at the near post, but the keeper was up to the task.
Time and again the conditions thwarted our attempts to get in front.
Max Johnston tried to free Blair Yule; the ball sped up and shot away. Fyvie crossed for McDonagh; a gust of wind sent the ball soaring over Gerry’s head. Shay Logan delivered from the left; again, the ball was carried high away from McDonagh’s reach.
In the twentieth minute, there was finally some quality, and we should have taken the lead.
McDonagh started a move with a curling crossfield pass. Johnston fastened on to it and drilled a cross which Ambrose deflected out for a corner. Fyvie shot narrowly over from twenty yards, and seconds later, from a Reynolds cross, Jack Sanders found himself free six yards out. The big central defender connected well with his header, but Schwake dived to his right to pull off a superb save.
Morton came close ten minutes before the interval, Strapp shooting over after Stuart McKenzie had pushed out a dangerous cross.
Luis Longstaff caused the keeper problems with a dangerous inswinging corner, and Charlie Gilmour’s shot spun over the bar, before the visitors went in front shortly before the interval.
The goal should never have stood. As the ball was played forward, Jaze Kabia was clearly offside when he gathered, but the linesman kept his flag down. The Morton midfielder rolled it wide, and when it was delivered into the box, Quitongo mis-kicked and it fell for KABIA who sidefooted home.
We might have equalised almost immediately. After Kabia had been booked for tugging back Johnston, Longstaff fired in the free-kick and Fyvie’s glancing header flew inches wide.
Early in the second half, Blues shot over for Morton at one end and Scully tried to head goalwards at the other, before the visitors came close to doubling their advantage. Muirhead hammered in a thirty-five yard free-kick which rode the wind, took a slight nick off the wall, and cannoned off the top of McKenzie’s right hand post.
Jamie Masson and Leighton McIntosh were introduced for Longstaff and McDonagh as Jim McIntyre searched for a way back into the game.
McKenzie saved a Muirhead shot from outside the box, but Cove were enjoying most of the play now, putting together some fine passing moves, but unable to penetrate the visitors’ defence.
Masson came close in the 72nd minute when he controlled the ball, turned, and fired in a twenty-yard shot, but he slipped as he made contact, and Schwake was able to grab the ball low by his post.
Robbie Leitch replaced Scully with ten minutes to go, and the equaliser finally came soon after. Fyvie and Leitch were initially at the heart of the move, Jamie Masson played the ball through for Max Johnston, but his cross was overhit. Logan gathered on the left and swung back in a dangerous delivery which cannoned off the post, and Leighton McINTOSH was first to react to head past Schwake.
Our joy was, however, to be short-lived. A Morton cross was half cleared, and poor marking allowed Robbie CRAWFORD all the freedom he needed to volley home from the edge of the box.
There was one final effort for Cove when, deep into stoppage time, Charlie Gilmour foraged forward, but his twenty-five yard drive screwed well wide.
COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): McKenzie; Johnston, Sanders, Reynolds, Logan; Longstaff (Masson 60), Yule, Gilmour, Scully (Leitch 80); Fyvie (c), McDonagh (McIntosh 65)
Substitutes: Gourlay, Ross, Neill, Vigurs, Dunne
Goalscorers: McIntosh (83)
Booked: Masson (63), Sanders (63)
MORTON (4-4-2): Schwake; Grimshaw, Baird, Ambrose, Strapp; Kabia (Pignatiello 77), Blues, Crawford, McGrattan (King 77); Quitongo, Muirhead
Substitutes: O’Connor, Hynes, McGregor, Lithgow
Goalscorers: Kabia (41), Crawford (77)
Booked: McGrattan (45), Kabia (63)
Referee: Peter Stuart
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