Shots on target
COVE RANGERS 0–1 INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE
Caley Thistle grabbed all three points from a tight match, Steven Boyd proving to be the difference as he took what was a rare clear-cut chance in a close, hard fought ninety minutes. Cove finished with ten men; Leighton McIntosh sent off after a penalty area scramble in the closing stages.
We enjoyed the bulk of the possession, but all too often failed to puncture a well drilled Inverness rearguard.
Jim McIntyre was again without injured trio Fraser Fyvie, Kyle McClelland and Jamie Masson, and made one change to the side beaten in Kirkcaldy last week, Mark Reynolds returning to central defence in place of Scott Ross.
The visitors were the first to threaten, Delaney taking a quick throw-in to Billy McKay, and the veteran striker turned to unleash a twenty-yard effort which flew wide of Gourlay’s left post.
Cove hit back in the seventh minute. Mark Reynolds made a run from his own half and passed to Scully, who in turn played the ball out to Logan. The full back fed Cieran Dunne, who was bundled over and stayed down. Physio Aimee Clark had to manipulate the midfielder’s shoulder back into place, but he was able to carry on.
From the resultant free-kick, Logan found Megginson eight yards out and the captain looked to have given us the lead with a header which evaded Ridgers’ clutches, only for the linesman to signal the striker was offside.
Both sides were biting into challenges, but at that stage referee Grainger seemed happy to allow play to flow.
Charlie Gilmour was next to have an attempt on goal, firing wide from twenty-five yards after a driving run from halfway.
Gilmour then switched play with a stunning fifty-yard diagonal to Dunne, who wriggled into the box, but saw his cross blocked for a corner by Deas.
In the eighteenth minute, MacGregor was almost in on the end of a long through ball, but Gourlay was out quickly to chest clear at the edge of his box. Seconds later, Caley Thistle did snatch the lead. An angled pass found Billy McKay running free into the box and his cutback was dispatched by Steven BOYD from close range.
Cove were keen to hit back quickly and won a corner. Longstaff sent in an outswinger, Sanders met it with his head, and Megginson was inches from getting a touch. Max Johnston then delivered an inviting cross, but once again Mitch only just failed to make contact.
A familiar pattern was emerging, with Cove having plenty of the ball, and making passes, but failing to make that count in the final third of the pitch.
Yule and Longstaff linked up on the right, and when the ball was returned to Sanders, he pinged a cross into the box, but again the visiting defence scrambled it clear.
Megginson then controlled the ball and found a yard of space, but his shot from the edge of the area was charged down, and soon after, Scully and Logan threatened, but Shay’s delivery was clutched by Ridgers.
Caley Thistle counter-attacked, Doran shooting over from fifteen yards, then Johnston was booked for apparently tugging back the pacy MacKay as he tried to burst clear.
Jim McIntyre made a change at the break, throwing on Leighton McIntosh for Dunne, and we nearly created an opening right after the restart. Megginson chested down a ball forward, Yule slid a pass into the box, and top scorer Connor Scully almost got on to it, before being crowded out.
Cove were still dictating much of the play, with Charlie Gilmour at the heart of everything. In the next move, he found Mitch, who fed in Longstaff, but Deas bundled the ball out for another corner.
In a rare Caley Thistle foray forward, Boyd shot from the edge of the box, Gourlay making a decent save to push the ball behind.
We came agonisingly close to equalising in the fifty-fourth minute. Luis Longstaff cut the ball back, Megginson let it run across his body, then fired off a powerfully hit low strike which Ridgers did well to hold on to.
Sanders had a header comfortably saved, and the keeper was called into action again soon after. Megginson and Longstaff combined initially, then Blair Yule set Max Johnston free. The right back’s cross found the head of McIntosh, and after his effort was blocked, Gilmour pounced on an awkward bouncing ball, and shot over.
Deas was booked for fouling Megginson forty yards out, and from Logan’s free-kick, Scully sent a header goalwards, only to see Ridgers dive to his left to make the save.
Inverness were resolute in defence, but our hopes of breaching their back line weren’t helped by a series of overhit crosses.
With eleven minutes remaining, the manager withdrew Longstaff and Gilmour, with Robbie Leitch coning on wide right and McDonagh up front alongside Mitch. Gerry did have one half chance, but his shot on the turn was grabbed by Ridgers, and he was booked soon after for kicking-out at Delaney.
Time running out, but we forced another corner, and as the ball flew into the box, McIntosh and Delaney tumbled to the ground. As they rose, there was a coming together and the referee adjudged that Leighton had hit out at the Caley Thistle defender, and flashed his red card.
There was little time thereafter, and the final whistle signalled the end of a disappointing afternoon in which the team enjoyed plenty of the ball, but failed to put enough pressure on the visiting defence, or create the kind of chances that might have salvaged what would have been a deserved point.
COVE RANGERS (4-3-3): Gourlay; Johnston, Sanders, Reynolds, Logan; Yule, Gilmour (McDonagh 79), Scully; Longstaff (Leitch 79), Megginson (c), Dunne (McIntosh 46)
Substitutes: McKenzie, Towler, Ross, Neill, Vigurs,
Booked: Johnston (42), Sanders (74), McDonagh (90)
Sent off: McIntosh (90)
INV CAL THISTLE (4-4-1-1): Ridgers; Carson, Duffy, Deas, Delaney; Boyd (Shaw 79), Allardice (Hyde 46), Harper, D. MacKay; MacGregor (Doran 21), McKay (Oakley 76)
Substitutes: C. MacKay, Ram,
Goalscorers: Boyd (19)
Booked: Boyd (34), Doran (55), Deas (66), Oakley (89), Harper (90)
Referee: Graham Grainger
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