CRAZY GAME OF TWO HALVES AS COVE HAVE TO SETTLE FOR A POINT IN FIRST AWAY DAY IN LEAGUE TWO
LATE HERO: Mitch Megginson wheels away after netting late on for Cove Rangers in the 4-4 draw with Albion Rovers.
Albion Rovers 4 Cove Rangers 4
Ladbrokes League Two
Saturday August 10, 2019
At the Reigart Stadium
POOR defending cost Cove Rangers the opportunity to make it two Ladbrokes League Two victories in a row after a dramatic and goal-packed 90 minutes in Coatbridge.
A share of the points was still enough to keep Cove top of the table, on goal difference, but they would have been in the clear were it not for an uncharacteristic second half collapse that saw them surrender a 3-1 lead then having to be rescued from losing 4-3 by a late header from skipper Mitch Megginson.
It could yet prove to be one of the most valuable points of the season, but the look on the faces of the Cove players at the end showed they knew they had thrown away a great chance to record back-to-back wins in crazy game that included another wonder goal from Declan Glass and a totally uncharacteristic goalkeeping blunder from the usually reliable Stuart McKenzie.
It was no surprise to see Cove boss Paul Hartley go with the same starting line-up that did so well in the 5-0 victory over Edinburgh City.
But he will be unhappy to then see them concede the opener with just 80 seconds on the clock.
Scott Roberts was given far too much space to break into the Cove box on the right and when he fired in a low cross Declan BYRNE was unmarked as he tapped home from close range.
What will have pleased Paul was the way his side, as they did after conceding early to St Johnstone in midweek, responded to going a goal down.
They created a host of chances and really should have been more than 3-1 ahead by the interval.
Cove’s first chance came when Jamie Masson’s long range free-kick almost caught out home keeper Chris Smith, who just managed to grab the ball at the foot of his right post.
Masson tried again in the 16th minute with another free-kick, this time from 25-yards, that Smith managed to push wide of his left post.
Cove equalised from the resultant corner with a move straight off the training pitch, similar to the ‘follow the leader’ routine used by Dane Ebbe Skovdahl when he was manager of Aberdeen nearly 20 years ago.
A posse of Cove players gathered outside the Albion area before dashing in as Chris Antoniazzi fired the ball across and the practice on the training ground ensured Harry MILNE was unmarked to net with a fantastic header for his third league goal of the campaign.
Cove then had two efforts cleared off the Albion line as they continued to dominate.
The first was a Megginson lob that was going in until Sean Fagan hooked the ball away.
Fagan also did well to get back to knock an effort from Glass behind for a corner.
Glass also saw a low drive parried by Smith as the one way traffic continued.
Megginson should have made it 2-1 in the 35th minute when he met a Blair Yule cross but the striker sent his free header from eight yards over the crossbar.
The second finally arrived three minutes later and it was a gift from home keeper Smith.
MASSON had a go from 25-yards and the shot looked an easy save but Albion’s teenage goalkeeper somehow allowed the ball to squirm under him into the net.
STUNNER: Albion Rovers keeper Chris Smith had no chance with the Declan Glass shot that put Cove Rangers 3-1 up in Coatbridge.
Smith had no chance with what was a stunning third from Cove in the 41st minute.
Scully laid the ball off to GLASS and he thundered in an unstoppable 25-yard shot that went in off the underside of the Albion crossbar.
It was a goal to remember and one that seemed to have set Cove up to go on and seal victory in the second period - instead they fell out of the game and went close to losing it.
More casual defending from Cove allowed Albion to pull a goal back in the 55th minute, when Euan EAST was given too much space to score from a 14-yard toe-poke.
The equaliser came in the 73rd minute when Cove keeper McKenzie allowed the ball to slip from his grasp after coming off his line at a corner and Albion defender Lewis WILSON bundled it home from close range.
The Albion fans were in dreamland when more poor defending from Cove led to substitute Smart OSADOLOR making it 4-3 in the 82nd minute.
Cove at least showed some character to battle back to equalise again with four minutes to go.
Higgins picked up the ball wide on the left and swept over a cross for MEGGINSON to direct a 12-yard header into the net to salvage a draw but it could have been so much more for Cove.
ALBION ROVERS: Smith, Lynas, Clarke, Wilson, Fagan, Morena, Roberts, Graham (W Graham 58), East (Osadolor 62), Byrne (Scally 68), Stewart.
Subs: Wharton, Goodfellow, Krones, Gordon.
COVE RANGERS: McKenzie, Yule, H Milne, Ross, Higgins, Scully, Redman (Park 65), Glass, Masson, Antoniazzi (Scott 65), Megginson.
Subs: Kelly, Strachan, Redford, Brown, McCafferty.
Referee: John McKenrick.