FOR the second league game away from home in a row Inverurie Locos were the better side against another of the the teams hotly tipped to finish in the top two positions in the table but they came out of the games pointless, and any slim hopes of an Inverurie challenge looks to have gone.
In a rip roaring local derby Cove Rangers had to dig deep to claim the points and keep on the tails of Forres Mechanics, but in a wind affected game, the majority of the play was dominated by a determined Locos side who welcomed back, suspension free, stand in skipper Clark Bain
The visitors threatened early with Craig Ross and Nicky Gordon both being foiled by Stuart McKenzie blocks while at the other end former Harlaw Park right winger Richie Singer’s cross was blocked well by Kieran Adams under threat from Jordan Leyden.
It was the home side who took the lead in 15 minutes. McKenzie’s long punt upfield found ex-Loco favourite Danny Milne who controlled the ball well and lobbed Andy Reid. The keeper could only partially save and when the ball landed on deck, Jordan LEYDEN placed it into the empty net from 12 yards.
Nicky Gordon was in good space and looking threatening again on a ground he used to call his home, but he failed to get enough power on his shot. Again, against the run of play, there could have been a second for Cove in 29 minutes, Singer’s free-kick from the left met by Stirling Smith but his goalbound half volley was blocked on the line by the alert Steven Park.
Locos pushed hard for the equaliser with half time looming, McKenzie diving full length to turn a Gordon right foot shot round his post for a corner. Ryan Broadhurst could not direct a header from a John Maitland in-swinging corner and the lively Scott Begg fired a loose ball at the edge of the box well over.
Begg almost punished Singer’s hesitancy early in the second half but was again off range with his shooting. The wind almost brought a bizarre goal when Reid’s free kick from inside his own half was tipped over expertly by opposite number McKenzie, then John Maitland went right in on goal but blazed over the top.
Reid then pinpointed Scott Begg whose knock down to Gordon saw the number nine strike a shot which came off the outside of the post, and Gordon had a goal chalked off for being marginally offside.
The much expected equaliser came in 77 minutes. A Craig Ross cross into the box hung in the air leaving Ryan BROADHURST well placed to fire home from close range.
A draw seemed a fair result but with three minutes left, Stirling Smith’s cross into the box was met by the diving head of Locos defender Neil McLEAN trying to clear his lines, but only succeeeding in diverting into his own net away from Reid’s reach.
Right at the start of injury time, Inverurie were awarded a penalty when Clark Bain was upended by McKenzie in the box. Bain stepped up to take the penalty himself but he screwed his shot wide, making it a travesty of justice that the visitors had taken nothing out of the game.
While Cove boss Kevin Tindal claimed Bain had admitted to diving and therefore justice was done with the miss, Locos co-boss Kenny Coull was not being drawn in any possible controversy at the end of an encounter that saw six Cove cautions and only two for Locos, both for minor offences. He said, “It’s becoming too familiar a story, the same as at Forres. I feel for the boys but the reality is we had our chances, but never took them.
“I felt we were the better team throughout, closed them down and never gave them time. They didn’t like it. But the reality is we’ve been beat again.
“They scored the goals, albeit with a little help from us. It was a great ball in for their second, a wee shout might have helped Neil McLean, but he knew Danny Milne was in there.
“We got the chance for a penalty, a chance for a point. The guys are doing things the way we want, showing a bit of pride.”
Cove Rangers: McKenzie, Cruickshank, Lawrie, McCulloch, Black, Small, Singer (Webster 81), Leyden (Park 75), Milne (Jeffrey 89), Johnston, Smith
Subs: Yule, Sim
Inverurie Locos: Reid, Park, McLean, Bain, Adams, Broadhurst, Ross (Michie 89), Begg, Gordon, Low (Gauld 63), Maitland
Subs:Thomson, Coull, Bell
Referee: T Shaw
This Saturday, January 28, the Locos play host to Clachnacuddin at Harlaw Park. Kick off is at 3pm.