COVE RANGERS 1-0 HAMILTON
Cove recorded a third successive victory and handed Accies their first defeat of the season as the side moved to within touching distance of the League One play-off places.
Nick Suman, who was to be named man of the match, pulled off a number of excellent saves in what was a closely contested encounter settled by the only goal, a classy effort constructed by Mark Reynolds and finished by Fraser Fyvie.
Paul Hartley had made two changes to the side which triumphed in Dumfries last Saturday, switching up his strike force. Scott Williamson and Kyle Connell dropped to the bench with top scorer Rumarn Burrell and skipper Mitch Megginson, free from suspension, restored to the starting line-up.
Blair Yule passed a lunchtime fitness test, but both Arron Darge and Mark Gallagher were out injured, leaving the manager with just six substitutes.
We started brightly, immediately putting the visitors under pressure as Burrell got in behind their back line. Ryan Fulton raced out to dive on the ball, and appeared to knock the striker over in the process, but the referee waved play on.
Hamilton responded positively, Barjonas playing a 1-2 with Henderson before firing a twenty-yard shot just wide of Suman’s right post.
Thereafter, Cove enjoyed the bulk of the possession, Scully, Fyvie and Yule seeing plenty of the ball as we probed without being able to make the breakthrough.
Accies were dangerous on the counter, and in the fourteenth minute Barjonas gathered from a throw-in then sent in a low curling strike which Suman dived full-length to push away with his left hand.
After good link-up play between Fyvie and Burrell, Jones flashed in an inviting cross, but there were no takers in the box.
We came desperately close to opening the scoring in the twenty-sixth minute. Fyvie fed a pass into the path of Burrell, whose running and close control caused Hamilton problems all afternoon, and the striker raced into the area. He got to the bye-line and delivered, the ball deflecting off Kilday and bouncing agonisingly inches wide of the far post.
Burrell then drove down the left and passed infield, Scully helped the ball on, but Megginson was closed down, McGowan clearing as Scully attempted to get an effort on goal. In the next move, Rumarn was again troubling the visitors. This time he took possession and laid off for Megginson, but the captain’s shot was blocked.
Just past the half hour mark, Suman was called into action. Tumilty cut in from the right and curled in a fine shot, the big keeper diving to his right to deny the full back.
Burrell then got closed down before he could shoot, and McGowan had to make a desperate clearance from another searching Jones cross.
Just before the interval, as Doyle attempted to burst clear in the centre circle, he appeared to be wiped out, but referee Steven ignored Cove claims, and Accies surged forward. Martin was fouled, the official seemed to point to the spot, but quickly changed his mind, and from the resultant free-kick MacDonald clipped his effort harmlessly over the bar.
It was a strong start to the second half by the home side, Yule winning a corner, which came to nothing, then Megginson having a shot blocked, but Accies were a threat on the break, substitute O’Hara flashing in a cross which Doyle cut out superbly to concede a corner.
Blair Yule then fired in another excellent delivery which Fulton did well to hold at his post.
Cove were now dominating. Megginson showed lovely control wide on the left, linked-up with Fraser Fyvie, then the midfielder rolled in Jones, whose cross was deflected for a corner. Fyvie’s delivery was superb, Paul McGowan making space at the back post to head goalwards, but Fulton was alert, and dived to turn the ball wide.
The opening goal finally came a few minutes later, and it was of the highest quality.
Mark Reynolds strode forwards out of defence, crossing the halfway line before dinking a magnificent angled ball into the box. Fraser FYVIE had ghosted in behind the defence and showed great composure as he guided an excellent header over Fulton and inside the far post.
Hamilton responded, and were to enjoy their best spell of the game.
Yule made a necessary interception in the area to thwart O’Hara, then from a Longridge cross, Tumilty’s first time shot was comfortably held by Suman.
Mitch Megginson required treatment from physio Charlotte Clark but was able to continue.
At that stage, it was all Accies, and they came close again in the seventy-second minute. For the first time all afternoon, a huge gap appeared in the heart of the Cove defence, and O’Hara ran away in behind. Nick Suman raced from his line, spread himself, and made a superb stop to deny the striker, the ball eventually being scrambled to safety.
The manager then withdrew Paul McGowan, deciding to match-up with Hamilton, Cameron Stewart slipping into a back three, but the visitors kept up the pressure, and Suman again came to our rescue. A free-kick from wide right was half-cleared, but only as far as Kyle MacDonald, who shot powerfully from twenty-five yards. The big keeper dived full stretch to his right to make another outstanding save.
Accies were laying siege on the home back line, but that was to be their last serious attempt on goal, and the defence saw the game out comfortably from there to secure a second successive clean sheet.
In fact, it was Cove who might have added to their winning margin deep into stoppage time, with Williamson and Scully both having shots blocked.
The victory was hard fought against a team which has been enjoying an excellent campaign, but the players maintained their recent form, and have now put together the club’s longest unbeaten run since the promotion winning season of 2021/22.
COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): Suman; Doyle, Gillingham, Reynolds, Jones; Yule, McGowan (Stewart 75), Fyvie, Scully; Megginson (c) (Williamson 81), Burrell
Substitutes: Demus, Sena, Connell, Mykyta
Goalscorers: Fyvie (61)
HAMILTON (4-4-1-1): Fulton; Tumilty (Tait 78), McGowan, Kilday, Longridge; Murray (Hendrie 58), MacDonald, Martin (c), Henderson (Mumbongo 78); Barjonas; McGlynn (O’Hara 46)
Substitutes: J. Smith, O’Brien, Zanatta, L. Smith, Hewitt
Referee: Colin Steven
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