PARTICK THISTLE 2-2 COVE RANGERS
Mark Reynolds emerged as the unlikely hero with the first double of his professional career as he struck twice late on to secure a point from a game which had long looked lost.
Lawless and Bannigan had given Thistle a 2-0 lead, their advantage pegged at that only thanks to another outstanding performance from Kyle Gourlay.
But with time running out, Reynolds twice found space in the Partick penalty area to snatch an improbable draw.
Jim McIntyre had made two changes to the side which performed well in the recent 2-2 draw with Hamilton. Fit-again Evan Towler returned at the back, with Conor Scully moving forward into midfield, while one of the ‘super subs’ against Accies, Jamie Masson, took over from Cieran Dunne.
Blair Yule made a welcome comeback, included in the matchday squad for the first time this season.
There was a familiar face in the home line-up with former Cove favourite Harry Milne taking his place at left back.
Thistle began the match – just the fourth SPFL encounter between the sides - only one point off the top of the table following a run of three straight league wins, and they very nearly took the lead with just forty-five seconds on the clock.
A long ball forward found Tiffoney drifting in from the left, he flicked it beyond Scott Ross and drove into the box, but Gourlay was out swiftly and saved the forward’s low shot with his foot, diverting it for a corner.
Harry Milne then threatened, but his dangerous cross was slightly overhit and only just failed to find Graham at the back post.
Thistle had the early momentum and were causing problems for the Cove defence. With seven minutes on the clock, Lawless clipped a delightful ball over the top for McMillan to run on to. His low cross was partially blocked, but fell to Graham, and the striker fired in a powerful low shot which flew across the box. Turner was free, but couldn’t adjust his feet, and diverted the ball over from close range.
It took eleven minutes for us to get up the park, and we very nearly opened the scoring. Jamie Masson gathered and teased the Thistle defence, before feeding Fraser Fyvie on the left. The midfielder swung in a delightful cross, missed by the home defence, and keeper Mitchell had to look lively to push the ball wide for a corner with Robbie Leitch in close attendance.
Tiffoney tried his luck from long range as Partick hit back, Kyle Gourlay saving at the second attempt, then the keeper had to look lively to prevent Brian Graham from scoring after the striker ran on to a Tiffoney flick.
The home side did go in front in the 17th minute thanks to a moment of real quality. After a patient build-up, the ball fell to Steven LAWLESS twenty yards and the midfielder did not hesitate. He looked up and fired a powerful left-footed strike which cannoned into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Thistle continued to look the more dangerous side. Docherty linked up with Lawless on the right, freeing up the overlapping McMillan. The full back raced away from Towler and fired low towards the near post, bringing another save out of Gourlay, who blocked the shot with his legs.
As the half wore on, Cove were seen less and less as an attacking force, but Mitch Megginson almost wriggled through after a defensive slip-up just past the half hour mark. The captain tried to break between the home central defenders, but Muirhead recovered just in time, and Mitchell was out to fall on the ball.
In the thirty-sixth minute, Evan Towler was yellow carded for what looked like an innocuous challenge on Turner, and Mitch quickly followed him into the book for protesting the decision.
Turner curled the resultant twenty-five yard free kick over the bar.
Tiffoney always looked dangerous coming in off the left and five minutes before the break he escaped the attentions of Scott Ross and blasted towards goal, Gourlay again making an impressive stop.
Ross then crumpled to the ground after seemingly catching his studs in the turf while being pressurised by Graham, and required lengthy treatment to his right knee, but was able to continue until the interval.
The injury was, however, clearly cause for concern, and he failed to re-emerge for the second half, new signing Kyle McClelland coming on for his Cove Rangers debut.
The team looked livelier just after the break and Mitch did well to find space down the left before digging out a cross, the ball only just evading Robbie Leitch’s head.
Back came Thistle though, and slack defending almost cost us a second goal. From a free kick out on the left, Turner whipped in an inviting delivery, and with the back line posted missing, Graham volleyed high over the bar from close range.
Having survived that scare, Cove hit back. Fyvie rolled the ball forward to Masson, who gathered and fed in Towler. Evan sent in a low cutback which Megginson controlled, but his shot on the turn was blocked on the edge of the six yard box.
Thistle increased their advantage in the next attack.
Tiffoney’s cross from the left skidded off the head of Mark Reynolds, but fell at the feet of Stuart BANNIGAN. The midfielder took a touch, then shot low and hard under Gourlay for a rare goal, his first in eighteen months.
With sixty-two minutes played, gaffer Jim McIntyre turned to his bench in a bid to revitalise the side. Leighton McIntosh and Luis Longstaff took over the wide berths, replacing Leitch and Masson.
Ian McCall went one better with a triple switch; Hodson, Fitzpatrick and Dowds replacing the injured McMillan, Tiffoney and Graham.
Longstaff went for a run down the right in a rare Cove attack, and when he found space to send in a cross to the back post, Fraser Fyvie could only head over from eight yards.
It was to be the midfielder’s last contribution. Having earlier received treatment, Fraser dropped to the turf again, and was replaced by Blair Yule, his return one of few plus points at that stage of the afternoon.
Out of the blue, we unexpectedly got a foothold in the game.
Shay Logan swung in a free kick from the left, Leighton McIntosh won his header, and when the ball dropped invitingly, Mark REYNOLDS was first to react, his shot from twelve yards deflecting past Mitchell.
Suddenly, it was all Cove.
Mitch Megginson drove into the box, his low angled shot saved by the legs of the home keeper for a corner.
Seconds later, we were level. Logan floated the ball in, Gilmour headed it back across the box and Mitch’s flick was cleared off the line. Again, Mark REYNOLDS was in the right place. He controlled the ball on his chest before smashing a left-foot volley past Mitchell before being engulfed by his jubilant team-mates.
There were a few minor moments of concern before the final whistle, but the defence held firm, and they escaped Glasgow with what could turn out to be a valuable point.
PARTICK THISTLE (4-3-2-1): Mitchell; McMillan (Hodson 70), Muirhead, Holt, Milne; Docherty(c), Turner, Bannigan; Lawless, Tiffoney (Fitzpatrick 70); Graham (Dowds 70)
Substitutes: Sneddon, Brownlie, Smith, Weston, Akinola, Mullen
Goalscorers: Lawless (17), Bannigan (52)
Booked: Docherty (87)
COVE RANGERS (4-1-4-1): Gourlay; Logan, Ross (McClelland 46), Reynolds, Towler; Gilmour; Leitch, (Longstaff 62), Scully, Fyvie (Yule 77), Masson (McIntosh 62); Megginson(c)
Substitutes: McKenzie, Neill, Vigurs, Dunne, Johnston
Goalscorers: Reynolds (81, 84)
Booked: Towler (36), Megginson (36), Gilmour (88)
Referee: Calum Scott