QUEEN’S PARK 1–0 COVE RANGERS
An unlucky own goal by Morgyn Neill was enough to settle a tight encounter with the league leaders stretching their advantage at the top of the table. Leighton McIntosh was twice denied by the woodwork, but the level of performance must give hope for the remainder of the campaign.
Minus long-term absentees Fraser Fyvie, Brody Paterson and Blair Yule, manager Paul Hartley welcomed Connor Scully back into his starting line-up as one of three changes from last week. Miko Virtanen also returned at the heart of the midfield and Cieran Dunne took up the wide left role. Vigurs, Bangala and Toure dropped to the bench.
Captain Mitch Megginson was again ruled out with a hamstring injury.
The home side were first to threaten as Euan Henderson surged forward from halfway. Miko Virtanen stopped him with a despairing tackle, picking up a booking in just the second minute. Thomas’ free-kick delivery looked dangerous, but Morgyn Neill was alert to it, and knocked the ball wide for a corner.
In the fifth minute, Michael O’Halloran showed his pace and strength, turning on the halfway line and bursting away from a couple of challenges. As he reached the angle of the box, he fired in a well-struck shot which Ferrie held under the bar.
Queen’s were quickly up the other end, Henderson unleashing a thirty-yard effort which brought a fine save out of Scott Fox, the keeper turning the ball behind with his right hand.
In what had been a bright opening to the match, it was our turn next as Cieran Dunne raced down the left touchline. His cross found Luis Longstaff, and Scully and O’Halloran also got involved before Dunne was upended twenty-five yards from goal.
Longstaff curled the resultant free-kick over the bar.
Queen’s threatened again in the seventeenth minute. Thomas fed Oakley and the full-back’s low cross flashed towards the near post where Neill diverted in behind. Thomas’ corner flew across the six-yard box where thankfully there were no takers.
Dom Thomas’ deliveries were causing concern and from the second of successive corners in the twenty-fourth minute he found the head of the giant Eze. Scott Fox again came to the rescue, beating the ball out and Boateng hooked the rebound over the bar.
The home side took a more direct route for their next attack. Shields gathered a long ball over the top, but his angled shot went wide of Fox’s left post.
Queen’s were dominating possession now, and we were finding it difficult to get up the pitch, but on the half hour mark we might have snatched the lead. McIntosh controlled a bouncing ball inside the home half and switched it wide to Longstaff. Luis beat the first defender and fed a pass into the area, finding Leighton, who shot low and hard, bringing a decent save out of Ferrie.
Scully then won a corner on the left. O’Halloran fired it in towards the back post where Neill only just failed to make contact with his head, then sent a hook shot over the bar as the ball bounced back to him.
Both sides then came close in the space of sixty seconds.
Thomson split the Cove defence with a fine pass which Henderson ran on to. The striker beat Fox with his low shot, but it cannoned back off the post.
We countered, Longstaff sent in an inviting cross from the right and Leighton McIntosh was desperately unlucky to see his diving header rebound out off the inside of the upright.
Grant Savoury then tried his luck from thirty-yards, Fox diving to his right to gather down low by the post.
Queen’s came even closer in the final minute of the half. Thomas sent in another wicked corner which Jason Naismith, under pressure, headed against his own post. The ball was cleared, and Cieran Dunne raced over halfway, Michael O’Halloran finishing the move with a right-footed shot which flew wide of the post.
The home side made a bright start to the second half, a patient move ending with Shields shooting well over the bar.
Strong play by Luis Longstaff created our first opening after the interval. He won the ball, played a one-two with Cieran Dunne, then raced to the bye-line but his cross was gathered by Ferrie.
Seconds later, Longridge swung in a cross from the left and Leighton McIntosh rose between Eze and Fox to power a header goalwards. For the second time on the night he was denied by the woodwork, his effort beating the keeper but rebounding back off the crossbar.
Queen’s made the first substitution of the match, Jake Davidson replacing the injured Thomson, and the sub almost made an instant impact. Shields drove to the bye-line and cut the ball back, but Davidson’s first time shot flew high over the bar.
The pair combined again soon after, Davidson racing from midfield to set-up Shields, but the striker’s low shot deflected off Virtanen and bounced wide of Fox’s left post.
We then put together a fine move. Mark Reynolds began it, setting O’Halloran free down the left. Michael cut infield and after exchanging passes with Scully and Naismith, rolled the ball to Longstaff. Luis curled a cross towards the back post, but the keeper took it easily.
Shields then broke clear, his low angled shot pushed behind by Scott Fox. From the corner that followed, Queen’s had two efforts blocked, and from the second Neill’s intervention found Scully, who set McIntosh away. Shields was booked for pulling the forward to the ground, and from the free-kick Longstaff’s delivery was overhit.
Out of nothing, the home side went ahead in the seventy-eighth minute. Substitute Healy fired in a low cross from the left and Morgyn NEILL, attempting to clear, could only turn in into his own net.
Paul Hartley then made a double switch, Bangala and Weston replacing Virtanen and Longstaff.
Fox made a fine save from a powerful angled shot by Savoury, then we came close to equalising with just two minutes remaining. Reynolds drove out of defence and passed wide to Weston. Tony took control and flashed in a cross which McIntosh just got his head to, but could only divert it wide of the back post.
The game finished with Cove pressing hard, but the players just couldn’t find a way through, and despite what had overall been a fine performance, they left Ochilview pointless.
QUEEN'S PARK: (4-2-3-1) Ferrie; Oakley, Eze, Fox, Robson (c); Thomson (Davidson 64), Boateng; Thomas (Jarrett 84), Savoury, Henderson (Healy 77); Shields
Substitutes: Herraghty, Longridge, McPake, Bruce, Biggar, Williamson
Goalscorers: Neill (OG 78)
Booked: Shields (74), Boateng (90)
COVE RANGERS: (4-2-3-1) Fox; Naismith, Neill, Reynolds(c), Longridge; Virtanen (Bangala 83), Scully; Longstaff (Weston 83), O’Halloran, Dunne (Toure 87); McIntosh
Substitutes: Gourlay, Logan, Ross, Vigurs, Glass
Booked: Virtanen (2), Dunne (43)
Referee: Steven McLean
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