Saturday 3rd November, 2012 at 9:07pm
Thistle managed to reach round four of the Scottish Cup but what started off like looking like a being a routine and comfortable victory became a little more uncomfortable, especially in the second half.
The Highland league side settled quite well but Thistle very quickly took control and in truth the opening goal, which arrived in the 13th minute, had been coming for some time.
Stephen O’Donnell hasn’t, as yet, opened his scoring account for the season but he was close to doing so when a run down the right took him into the Cove box. A finger tip save from McKenzie though prevented the full-back from finding the net.
The Cove keeper though could do little about Ross Forbes opener. Forbes was central to much of what Thistle produced during the first half and it was fitting that he opened the scoring with a curling effort from the left corner of the Cove box.
Thistle continued to dominate proceedings a second goal looked inevitable as Cove become increasingly hemmed in their own half. There was a shock in store for Thistle in the 27th minute when they found themselves reduced to ten men. Steven Craig was fouled by Eric Watson and despite winning the free kick appeared to aim a kick at the Cove player and after consulting with his Jackie Husband side assistant, referee Tumility showed Craig the red card. A sending off that, if deemed violent conduct, will keep him out of the team to play Dunfermline.
Despite being a man short, Thistle continued to dominate. Aaron Sinclair saw a header tipped over the bar by McKenzie before Thistle scored a second goal in the 37th minute. Stephen O’Donnell’s cross, with Kris Doolan in close attention, was headed into his own net by Alan Redford. It remains to be seen whether Kris can claim the goal as his own.
A third goal before the break would surely have sealed the win for Thistle and Conrad Balatoni should have done better than shoot over the bar when presented with the opportunity to score that third goal in the 42nd minute.
Until Thistle could score a third goal the game continued to have the potential to be an uncomfortable one for Thistle and Cove were handed, or were they, a route back into the match. Cove had two earlier, rather optimistic, appeals for penalties turned down but when a shot in the 59th minute appeared to smack into the chest of Conrad Balatoni, referee Tumility this time decided to point to the spot.
Danny Milne, just on as a sub for Cove, took the kick and his tame effort was saved by Scott Fox to his right.
With 17 minutes of a match that was, if not uncomfortable exactly, one that Thistle were desperate to see to a conclusion, Chris Erskine missed a fine chance to finally remove any doubt over who would reach the next round. Paul Slane’s pass set up Erskine whose angled drive was just wide of goal.
Included in the Cove side was Ryan Stott, who scored Culter’s goal against Thistle in last season’s competition, and the Cove sub nearly found the net against Thistle once more. With the game starting to near its’ conclusion he was able to get away from Stephen O’Donnell but Scott Fox was able to produce a smart save to keep the Thistle goal intact.
Fox though was beaten with four minutes of the game remaining with Cove scoring the goal of the game. Danny Milne, whose effort from the penalty spot had been so poor, found no difficulty in finding the net from fully 30 yards out.
Thistle though should very quickly have restored their two goal advantage. Christie Elliott did well to tee up Aaron Sinclair who with time and space couldn’t hit target from 12 yards out.