Super Sub Stephen! By Easton Thain

An inspirational substitution late in the Aberdeenshire Cup 1st round game at Allan Park enabled the Jags to pull off a seemingly unlikely win over Cove Rangers to progress into the quarterfinals where they will face Keith at Kynoch Park. Hand on heart at half-time the only result that looked on was a win for Rangers for they had completely dominated the first half in which Thistle looked out of sorts. Cove played their tight park the right way in the opening 45 minutes whereas the Jags passing was simply not crisp enough and too often they lumped the ball down the park which was meat and drink for Eric Watson & co. Few could argue that Rangers deserved their half time lead and they could have had more goals but for Kevin Main. Even at the start of the second half Cove were in control but then came the decision that changed the face of the match and I have to say it was a tad harsh on Rangers who were reduced to ten men. In the past Thistle have failed to take advantage of this and going into the final minutes Cove were holding onto their lead but then with three minutes left the Jags drew level. Injury time was then a certainty due to a lengthy hold up when Blair Yule got injured and in this Thistle grabbed the glory. Still in injury time Kevin Main bravely went for a ball and got an elbow in the mouth for his troubles which burst inside and outside of his lip and this caused a further delay and all told there was an incredible FIFTEEN minutes of injury time!

The home side started like an express train and in the very first minute Jamie Lennox hit the bar and Jamie McAllister turned the ball home but their joy was short as the offside flag went up. Cove though exerted relentless pressure and in the 17th minute a corner in was only cleared to Blair Yule who fired a drive just wide – it was a warning Thistle failed to heed. Three minutes later Blair Yule got through far too easily before crossing to Jamie Lennox but his header was held by Kevin Main. Just 60 seconds on though Cove grabbed a deserved lead when Jamie Lennox was not shut down and he fed Blair Yule and when no one went to meet him he promptly crashed a raging 22-yard drive that flew past Kevin Main and into the net. The home tails were up and in the 23rd minute Jamie Lennox fed Connor Scully who fired in a low drive but this was held by Kevin Main. Five minutes on Darren Wood switched off when a deep cross came in letting in Daniel Park but he shot wide. The jags first chance came in the 29th minute when the ball found Liam Baxter but his drive was tame and Sandy Wood saved with ease. Back came Rangers and in the 36th minute Jamie McAllister fed Daniel Park who sent in a great low cross but Daryl Nicol and Connor Scully both failed to connect. Three minutes on Drew Copeland did well to win the ball but he then wasted the chance by shooting over. A minute on Connor Scully threaded the ball through the Jags defence to Jamie McAllister who fired in a close-range shot but Kevin Main did well to effect a blocking save. On half-time Blair Yule sent a ball into the box which Jamie McAllister met but headed wide. Thistle then was a bit fortunate to be only a goal down at half-time.

Half-time Cove Rangers 1 Buckie Thistle 0

Cove started the second half where they left off and five minutes in Connor Scully fed Daryl Nicol who cut through the defence far too easily before driving in a shot but Kevin Main parried this and it was cleared. On the hour Liam Baxter won the ball and set Scott Adams free, he sent over a fine deep cross to Donnie Munro but his header went wide. Sixty seconds on though the course of the game changed as Rangers were harshly reduced to ten men. Chris Angus shepherded a ball back to Kevin Main and was barged into by Jamie McAllister so, at worst, it was a free-kick so disbelief in the home ranks followed as the referee deemed this as a kick at the Jags man by the striker who was shown a straight red card. Chris earned respect though by saying to the referee it was not a kick at him but the decision stood. In the past Thistle have failed to make use of a man advantage and in the tight confines of Allan Park this could be just as difficult but the Jags started to make an impression and in the 68th minute they deserved a better fate when Donnie Munro found Liam Baxter who held the ball up before crashing in a great left-foot shot only to see the ball smack off the post and away to safety. Nine minutes later Jay Cheyne fed Liam Baxter who made a mazy run into the box but his final shot was parried by Sandy Wood. It looked as though the pressure would bear no fruit but then, with three minutes remaining it did as the Jags won a free-kick wide right whereupon Andy Low whipped the ball into the box, Stephen Gauld went for it with his head, missed it with that part of his anatomy but it then hit him square on his nose and flew into the net! The question now was could Thistle fashion a winner? Four minutes into extra-time came the answer and it was a superb goal as the ball was sent through the midfield whereupon Andy Low head flicked it into the path of Stephen Gauld who raced clear of a defender before smashing a drive past Sandy Wood and into the net. Cove won a couple of set pieces after that, it was in between these that Kevin Main had his mishap leading to further injury time but the Jags didn’t yield and held out for a notable win

Full-time Cove Rangers 1 Buckie Thistle 2

A gutsy effort then by the Jags who really had to pull out all the stops to win the game and they got the break they needed when Cove were reduced to ten men. Lets not beat about the bush the Jags were poor in the first half with too many misplaced passes and they never looked like scoring. The early second half changes worked as they looked more compact and more threatening and then the final change, putting on Stephen Gauld, was the magic trick that would clinch the game. For Thistle Kevin Main earned his corn again, and facial stitches for the cause, whilst Darren Wood battled hard at the back, Drew Copeland tried hard in midfield and Scott Adams looked threatening when he switched to the right wing. A battling win then and similar qualities will be needed if the league campaign is to start with a victory at Fort William on Saturday

Match Photo’s courtesy of Allan Robertson

Cove Rangers – Wood, Yule (Watt), Clark, Webster, Watson, Mathers, Park, C Scully, McAllister, Lennox (McBain) and Nicol (Stephen)

Buckie Thistle – Main, S Wood, D Wood, G Stewart, Angus, MacRae, Copeland (Munro), J Cheyne, MacMillan (Low), Baxter and Adams (S Gauld)


Referee – A Cooper

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