HAMILTON 4-4 COVE RANGERS
Mitch Megginson grabbed the headlines as he notched his 200th goal for Cove Rangers, but the club legend’s celebrations had to be put on hold after the team threw away a 4-1 lead, and what should have been a first away win of the season.
Mark Reynolds headed us in front, and Mitch made it two from the penalty spot, but Accies got back into it just before the break, through Andy Winter. A quick-fire double, Megginson’s landmark goal followed by a piece of magic from Gerry McDonagh, should have sealed it, but defensive lapses allowed the home side to fight back for an unlikely point.
There was just one change from last week’s draw at Somerset Park, Shay Logan resuming at left-back in place of Evan Towler, and Jamie Masson made a welcome return to the bench. Leighton McIntosh was serving the second of his two-match ban, while Fyvie (groin), Ross (knee) and McClelland (ankle) were all out injured.
Assistant manager Jimmy Boyle was in charge in the dugout, with boss Jim McIntyre stuck at home after testing positive for COVID.
Hamilton were first to probe, Logan forced to concede a corner under pressure from Ngandu. It was easily cleared, and Cove built up a nice move, Mitch Megginson and Gerry McDonagh combining in the box to allow Scully a half-chance, but his hook-shot was comfortably saved.
Back came Accies, and Ryan’s twenty-five yard shot was deflected wide by Jack Sanders. The inswinging delivery caused a moment of concern, but between them, Gourlay and Gilmour bundled the ball wide.
Then came two minutes of concerted Cove pressure which eventually led to the breakthrough.
Gilmour sent in a corner from the left and Sanders’ towering header was brilliantly tipped over by home keeper Smith. Longstaff took the next one from the right, and Scully had his effort deflected over, but it was to be third time lucky for the boys.
It was Gilmour from the left again, Reynolds first header was blocked, and after the ball bounced around the box, and took a few ricochets, Mark REYNOLDS was first to react to send a looping header over Smith for his third goal of the season.
Cove were now dominating.
Longstaff and Johnston combined to cause havoc for the home defence, but Max’s cross was cleared, then Connor Scully had another effort blocked. Longstaff was next to have a go, the winger cutting in from the right and firing off a low effort which was easily saved.
And then, out of nothing, we nearly gave a cheap goal away.
Under no pressure, Jack Sanders looked to head the ball back, but he was short, and Lewis Smith got a touch, then drove towards goal. Kyle Gourlay was alert to the danger and off his line quickly to make an excellent save, the ball deflecting back off the Accies wide-man for a goal kick.
Normal service was resumed when Cove broke upfield again. First, Johnston’s dangerous cross was diverted to safety, then we threatened down the other flank, Scully’s clever cutback being swept first time towards goal by Megginson, but Smith was equal to the effort, making a fine save low at his post.
Accies were not offering much, but finally managed to put a little pressure on our defence in the thirty-sixth minute.
Mark Reynolds decisive header ended one attack, but Hamilton regrouped, and when Ryan drove in a cross from the left, Smith got the touch, but could only knock it wide of Gourlay’s right post.
With five minutes of the half remaining Charlie Gilmour fed a long pass wide to Logan, who shuffled it first time to Scully. Connor’s cross was half cleared, but wouldn’t fall for McDonagh to get a shot away. Johnston then delivered from the right, keeper Smith fumbling the ball, but Accies were relieved to hear referee Graham blow for a free-kick.
They weren’t so happy seconds later. Scully crossed from the left and Virtanen was adjudged to have blocked the delivery with his arm, the official pointing immediately to the spot.
Mitch MEGGINSON stepped up confidently to drive the ball home as Smith dived to his right.
With the home fans chanting ‘sack the board’, and the atmosphere inside the stadium beginning to turn ugly, they were suddenly given a lifeline.
Slack defending on the left allowed Smith to cut the ball back, and Andy WINTER had the freedom he needed to slide the ball beyond Kyle Gourlay.
Cove re-established our two-goal lead within two minutes of the restart.
Gerry McDonagh’s cross-field pass found Scully free on the left edge of the box, Connor looked up and sent in a perfect low delivery, and Mitch MEGGINSON ran free to hammer the ball into the net for his second of the game, and sixth of the campaign. It was also the 200th of his glittering Cove career.
Minutes later, it was 4-1.
After concerted possession, Megginson fed the ball wide, Longstaff and Johnston linked-up, Luis setting Max clear, and from his low cross, Gerry McDONAGH, clearly high on confidence after last week’s goal at Ayr, cleverly backheeled beyond Jamie Smith, and into the net.
Again, the Accies fans protested; again, their side grabbed an almost immediate potential lifeline.
Smith swung the ball in from the right, Gourlay was caught at his near post, and RYAN arrived unmarked at the back to bullet a header into the roof of the net.
On the hour mark substitute Tiehi tried to race clear, but with the Accies man and Sanders both tugging at each other, the striker’s shot was deflected over. Winter was booked for protesting, clearly believing Jack should have been penalised.
Seconds later, Accies did get the decision, and the opportunity to re-ignite their hopes of snatching something from the match.
As Andy Winter tried to wriggle free at the edge of the box, Mark Reynolds went to ground, and caught the Hamilton player. Despite complaints the challenge had been outside, referee Graham pointed immediately to the spot, and Steve LAWSON netted with a composed low finish, sending Kyle the wrong way as he found the bottom corner.
Jimmy Boyle made a change at that point, Jamie Masson making his return at the expense of McDonagh.
Lawson was booked after catching Gilmour on the head with a flying elbow, but thankfully Charlie was able to continue after treatment.
Having battled back into the game, Accies had been given a new lease of life, and were enjoying their best spell of the afternoon, but we were still threatening on the counter, and Megginson flashed an inviting delivery across the box which Masson just failed to connect with.
Brown then drove in a fine strike from the edge of the box for Hamilton, but Gourlay got down to make a good low save.
As the game edged towards the final ten minutes, it had become a much more even encounter, and clear cut scoring opportunities were at a premium.
Masson was booked for stepping in front of the ball to prevent a quick free-kick, Doyle blasting the ball against the Cove midfielder.
Clever play by Megginson opened things up, the captain’s pass finding Longstaff in the box, but Luis couldn’t control the ball instantly, and when he did, he could only shoot wide with defenders closing him down.
With two minutes remaining, and Kyle Gourlay clearly trying to run the clock down, he was penalised by referee Graham for time-wasting, Accies being awarded an indirect free-kick seventeen yards out.
Lawson rolled the ball, RYAN struck it, and his shot took a wicked deflection off the onrushing Cove defence, and spun into the bottom corner of the net. In the aftermath, Mitch Megginson was booked for protesting the initial decision, and Charlie Gilmour collected a yellow soon after for crudely halting a Hamilton attack.
HAMILTON (4-4-1-1): J. Smith; Brown (One 81), Doyle, Easton (c), Shiels (Mimnaugh 55); L. Smith (McGinn 55), Virtanen, Lawson, Winter; Ngandu (Tiehi 46); Ryan
Substitutes: Scully, Zanatta, Owens, Newbury, Latona
Goalscorers: Winter (44), Ryan (53, 89), Lawson (pen 63)
Booked: Ryan (60), Tiehi (66), Lawson (68)
COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): Gourlay; Johnston, Sanders, Reynolds, Logan; Longstaff, Yule, Gilmour, Scully; Megginson (c), McDonagh (Masson 64)
Substitutes: McKenzie, Towler, Neill, Vigurs, Leitch, Dunne
Goalscorers: Reynolds (10), Megginson (pen 42, 48), McDonagh (52)
Booked: Masson (80), Megginson (90), Gilmour (90)
Referee: Chris Graham
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