League One / Balmoral Stadium / Attendance:
Sat 06 Jan 24 / 15:00

Cove Rangers




Kelty Hearts



2024 got underway in frustrating fashion at Balmoral Stadium as the team threw away a commanding lead and had to settle for a share of the points.

Rumarn Burrell scored for the eighth league game in a row, and when Mitch Megginson doubled the advantage, we looked well placed for the win, but poor defending cost us dear, and Kelty might even have snatched the victory in the second half.

With Fraser Fyvie and Balint Demus still sidelined, and Luke Strachan edging towards full fitness, Paul Hartley had made one change from last week’s draw at Montrose. Paul McGowan returned from illness, Cameron Stewart dropped to the bench, and Josh Kerr lined-up alongside Mark Reynolds in central defence.

On a bright, crisp afternoon, the game got off to a quiet start. Cove were making most of the early running and Jones and Scully both had inviting deliveries cleared by the visiting back line before Burrell came close, controlling a Megginson pass, but shooting just wide from inside the box.

He had another opportunity soon after, running on to a Kerr pass before being wiped out by Gourlay who had raced from his area. The keeper was saved by the assistant raising his flag for offside; it looked a marginal call.

The breakthrough came in the fifteenth minute. Connor Scully swung in a corner from the right which led to a scramble in the box before Gourlay pulled off a magnificent save from Mikey Doyle’s shot. Mark Reynolds was first to react, lifted the ball back to the far post and Rumarn BURRELL was there to head home his twentieth of the campaign.

The second goal arrived soon after, and it came as a result of an excellent move. Josh Kerr took possession deep in his own half and rolled a pass forward to Blair Yule. The midfielder looked up and found Burrell who ran wide and fired a dangerous low ball across the area, teeing-up Mitch MEGGINSON for an easy finish, his first goal since the end of September.

Josh Kerr’s distribution from defence was causing big problems for Kelty, and from his latest superb diagonal, Scully and Burrell worried the visiting back line before the striker was eventually closed down.

In the thirty-third minute, Kelty created their first opening. O’Donnell forced a corner and took it short, Tidser swung in a cross, and from eight yards out, Johnston headed over the bar.

We were looking less in control now, but still creating half-chances without seriously threatening to score a third, and Kelty might have snatched a lifeline just before the break, Megginson back defending to make a vital interception with Owens ready to pounce at the far post.

The Fifers did get back into the game soon after the interval, the goal coming out of the blue after Alfie BAVIDGE had found space inside the box. His shot looked weak, but Nick Suman fumbled the ball into the net. It was an uncharacteristic error from the big Aussie who had risen from his sickbed to play.

Cove responded with a couple of dangerous crosses. Burrell’s delivery was deflected for a corner by Corbett, then from Connor Scully’s low driven ball, Kerr saw his shot charged down. Scully then had an effort blocked, and after it had been half-cleared, Megginson shot inches wide from the edge of the area.

The captain was brought down in our next attack, and after Josh Kerr’s drive from the free-kick had been blocked, Jones flashed in a superb low cross which both Megginson and Burrell only just failed to connect with.

The game was level seconds later.

Kelty counter-attacked, and after a long ball over the top, Bavidge gathered, raced forwards, and rounded the outrushing Suman, only to be denied by Kerr who had shown great awareness to recover and divert the striker’s shot for a corner. It was from the resultant delivery that Adam CORBETT rose highest to head home the equaliser.

The visitors were enjoying more of the play now, but we continued to string together some impressive attacking moves, and in quick order, Megginson had a shot blocked, then Burrell and Doyle were both denied by well-organised defending.

Scully fired well over from thirty-five yards, then substitute Connell lifted the ball for Burrell to run on to, Gourlay racing from his line to make a last-gasp clearance.

Mitch Megginson went down injured late on, and after treatment, had to be replaced by Scott Williamson, a worry ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Falkirk.

We continued to probe, but could not find a way through, and Kelty saw the game out comfortably enough to pick up a deserved point given their second half showing.

COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): Suman; Doyle, Kerr, Reynolds, Jones (Darge 68); Yule, Sena, McGowan (Connell 68), Scully; Megginson (c) (Williamson 78) Burrell

Substitutes: Robertson, Gillingham, Gallagher, Stewart

Goalscorers: Burrell (15), Megginson (20)

Booked: Darge (82)

KELTY HEARTS (4-3-3): Gourlay; McCluskey, Corbett, L. Owens, B. Owens; Lyon (c), Tidser (Biabi 79), O’Donnell; Cunningham (McAllister 63), Johnston (Daramola 86), Bavidge

Substitutes: Campbell, L. Owens, Cameron, Sylla

Goalscorers: Bavidge (47), Corbett (57)


Referee: Stewart Luke

Attendance: 772

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