Our impressive start to this season's Viaplay Cup campaign was blown away last night, after being defeated 5-0 by Livingston at Balmoral Stadium. Despite going toe-to-toe with our Premiership opposition in the opening 45 minutes, the Lions scored late on to go in at the break ahead.
The side came out positive, and could have been on level terms shortly after half-time. However, two quick goals put a dent in the teams hopes of continuing its unbeaten run, and Kelly's late double ensured that Livingston would head down the road with all three points.
Manager Paul Hartley made four changes to the side that defeated Brechin 3-2 on Saturday afternoon. Paul McGowan, who signed on Monday afternoon, came straight into the team as captain. Dayshonne Golding also came in to make his debut. Josh Kerr and Balint Demus also came into the team.
After an evenly contested opening ten minutes, we went within inches of opening the scoring. After winning a free-kick 25-yards out, Connell stepped up and knocked to his right for Gallagher to run onto. The midfielders driven effort fizzed just wide of the post.
Livingston then had their first chance of the game, with Penrice going close. The winger received the ball from Montano on the edge of the area, and after shifting onto his right foot, he shot for goal, but his effort trickled by the far post.
Reynolds then had an opportunity to score for the second match in a row. Connell whipped a corner into the busy penalty area, and the ball dropped at the far post to Reynolds who was unmarked. The defender took a touch to set himself, before swinging a shot towards goal, but his effort was blocked, and Livingston cleared.
Our biggest opportunity of the first half came in the 35th minute. The team caught Livingston out on the counter-attack, and after doing well to control the ball and drive towards goal, Golding flicked the ball to his right where Sena was bursting through on goal. The midfielder looked favourite to have a shot on goal with George rooted to his goal line, but Obileye came out of nowhere to slide in and win the ball off him, preventing a great opportunity to take the lead.
Just before half-time, Livingston broke the deadlock. Shinnie whipped a free-kick into the box from a wide position, which Obileye won initially. He found Parkes at the back post, who powered home to give the Lions the lead.
It could have been 2-0 before the break, but luckily Obileye nodded his header wide of the near post after connecting well from a corner.
Despite being behind at the break, there was a lot to be positive about, and the side started the second half bright.
Five minutes after the restart, Golding had a big opportunity to get us back on level terms. Gallagher received the ball on the turn in the middle of the park, and threaded the ball through the Livingston midfield to find Connell. The striker, who was unbalanced, managed to flick the ball through to Golding. One-on-one with the goalkeeper, Dayshonne looked destined to score his first for the club, but for the second time in the game, Obileye produced an exceptional last ditch tackle to prevent an equaliser.
Connell then tried his luck from range, shooting from 25-yards out, but the in-form man dragged his effort wide of the goal on this occasion.
The side were then punished at the other end of the park, with Livingston scoring for the second from a set-play. Penrice received a short corner from Shinnie, and whipped a dangerous cross into the box. Obileye met the ball with ease, and headed into the far top corner.
Within the blink of an eye it was 3-0. Parkes was given time on the ball to float a cross into the box, and Bruce Anderson, who was unmarked, was able to flick a header from the edge of the area into the far corner beyond the stranded Demus.
Anderson looked to net a brace in quick succession, after Pittman found the striker making a run in behind the defence. This time Demus was able to get behind the powerful strike which was straight at him.
Rumarn Burrell, who was substituted in for Golding just after the hour mark, looked to give us a lifeline when he latched onto a long ball in the 70th minute. The striker did well to get the ball under control, and attempted to feed the ball into Shamal George's near post, but the goalkeeper was able to save with his foot.
Demus was forced to make a couple of big saves in the 75th minute. The first came after Nouble breezed down the right wing, and was allowed to cut inside the box. The winger took aim for the near post, and Balint got down to save. Seconds later, the ball broke to Guthrie on the edge of the area, who smashed towards goal, which Demus palmed over.
Connell looked to reduce the deficit after he skipped by a number of challenges on the edge of the area, but his end finish was whipped wide of the post.
With ten minutes to play, Livingston made it 4-0 with a goal out of the top drawer. Guthrie received the ball on the edge of the area, and laid it back to Stephen Kelly. He whipped the ball from 25 yards out right into the top corner.
In the 93rd minute, Livingston rounded off the win by scoring a fifth. The ball dropped to Stephen Kelly in the penalty area, and the midfielder rattled the ball in off the post. A disappointing end to what was a positive start to the game.
COVE RANGERS (3-5-2): Demus; Kerr, Gillingham, Reynolds; Darge, Gallagher (Jones 64'), McGowan, Sena (Mykyta 79'), Scully; Connell, Golding (Burrell 64').
UNUSED SUBS: Suman, Naismith, Ochmanski, Vigurs, Gaffney
LIVINGSTON (3-4-3): George; Devlin (De Lucas 67'), Obileye, Parkes; Montano (Brandon 77'), Holt, Shinnie (Sangare 73'), Penrice; Anderson (Guthrie 73'), Nouble, Pittman (Kelly 67')
UNUSED SUBS: Hamilton, Boyes, Welch-Hayes, Ledingham