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Championship / Balmoral Stadium / Attendence:
Sat 15 Apr 23 / 14:00

Cove Rangers




Inverness CT



Despite taking the lead through a superb Iain Vigurs free-kick, Cove fell to defeat as the visitors turned the game round with two goals in four minutes to leave us bottom of the Championship table with just three games remaining.

The crippling injury list meant Paul Hartley was without six players for this crucial encounter. With Fraser Fyvie, Brody Paterson, Miko Virtanen and Blair Yule all out for the season, Scott Fox was ruled out because of last week’s concussion injury, and Shay Logan failed a late test. On the plus side, Mark Reynolds and Leighton McIntosh were passed fit to play.

The home side made the brighter start as Luis Longstaff forced an early corner. Vigurs whipped the ball in, and Scott Ross met it at the back post, but could not direct his header on target.

Seconds later, Caley Thistle looked to have snatched the lead. Michael O’Halloran was dispossessed in midfield and Shaw rolled a pass through behind Morgyn Neill. Billy McKay nipped in to guide the ball beyond Gourlay, but the flag was raised to quell the Inverness celebrations.

Cove hit back and after a strong run in which he left a number of defenders trailing in his wake, O’Halloran teed-up Connor Scully, but the midfielder’s shot from eighteen yards was comfortably saved.

There was another opportunity shortly afterwards when Leighton McIntosh raced to the bye-line and cut the ball back for Mitch Megginson, but the captain was challenged as he shot, and again Ridgers made the save.

The team was playing some decent football during this spell and enjoying some good possession, but finding it difficult to create clear cut chances, and it was Caley Thistle who nearly made the breakthrough. From a free kick out on the left, Harper swung his delivery to the back post which was flicked on by McKay. Gourlay threw out his right arm to make an instinctive save, the ball bouncing off the top of the bar and behind.

Cove then put together an impressive move. Longstaff and Megginson combined initially, McIntosh rolled a pass beyond the back line which Luis ran on to, but his cross was headed over by Mitch.

Minutes later, the players again cut through with Megginson and McIntosh involved in the  build-up. Longstaff then raced infield, Scully took over, but his pass ran away from the onrushing Megginson.

On the stroke of half time, Caley Thistle were again on the back foot as half the Cove team took part a threatening attack. It ended with Vigurs playing the ball wide to Longridge, but Jackson’s cross fell just behind O’Halloran on the edge of the six yard box.

After a quiet start to the second half, Cove finally broke the deadlock.

Vigurs won the ball in midfield, McIntosh flicked it on, and as Megginson sped towards the box he was upended by Devine, who earned a caution. From twenty yards, Iain VIGURS stepped up and flashed the free kick low into Ridgers’ bottom right corner.

Within a few minutes, Megginson let fly from just outside the area, but his shot was saved, then Vigurs was given another opportunity when the captain was bundled over in a dangerous area, but this time the midfielder’s effort soared over the bar.

Caley Thistle then mounted a swift counter-attack which led to them levelling the match. The ball was lifted over the Cove defence and as Doran tried to run clear, he was clipped by Morgyn Neill. The offence looked to be outside the box, but referee Duncan pointed to the spot and Billy McKAY’s spot kick was too powerful for Gourlay, despite the keeper diving the right way.

Four minutes later the visitors were in front, but again the opportunity came from an incorrect decision.

The ball was clearly knocked out for a Cove throw-in, but the linesman awarded it the other way, and after a switch of play, from a cross from the left, we were too slow to react and Cameron HARPER smashed his shot into the net from the edge of the box.

The players pushed desperately for an equaliser. Scully headed over from ten yards, then Longstaff was squeezed out as he found a dangerous position just inside the box. Seconds later, McIntosh forced a corner, and we came agonisingly close to squaring the match. Vigurs whipped it in and both Ross and Neill attempted to make contact. The final touch might have come from an Inverness defender, but Ridgers reacted quickly and was able to push the ball over the bar.

There was one final foray into the visitors’ box, but they scrambled it clear, and held on to secure the points which left us trailing Hamilton and Arbroath in the bid for survival.

COVE RANGERS: (4-4-2) Gourlay; Ross, Neill, Reynolds, Longridge; Longstaff (Dunne 76), Vigurs, Scully (Glass 90), O’Halloran; Megginson (c) (Weston 76), McIntosh

Substitutes: Demus, Naismith

Goalscorers: Vigurs (56)

Booked: Neill (16)

INV CAL THISTLE: (4-4-1-1) Ridgers; Carson, Devine (Deas 76), Delaney, Harper; D. MacKay (Doran 59), Allardice, Welsh (c), Samuels (Boyd 70); Shaw; McKay

Substitutes: C. MacKay, Hyde, Woods, Nicolson

Goalscorers: McKay (pen 67), Harper (71)

Booked: Devine (55)

Referee: Gavin Duncan

Attendance: 959

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