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Mark Reynolds: Cove Rangers backline can’t give Falkirk’s Leigh Griffiths even ‘half a chance’

Cove Rangers' Mark Reynolds.
Cove Rangers' Mark Reynolds.

Mark Reynolds says Cove Rangers’ defenders know they can’t afford to give Leigh Griffiths a sniff in front of goal if he plays for Falkirk on Saturday.

Former Celtic and Scotland striker Griffiths, like Reynolds, has dropped down to League One for the second half of the campaign and could start for Martin Rennie’s fifth-placed Bairns at the Balmoral Stadium.

Ex-Motherwell, Aberdeen and Dundee United stopper Reynolds, 34, knows keeping Griffiths quiet would be a significant step towards third-tier leaders Cove racking up another big three points towards their title quest.

Reynolds said: “Leigh Griffiths is dangerous on his day and has scored goals at the top level in Scotland and for Scotland.

“He’s a top, top player and just needs to get his fitness back.

“He’s somebody I’ve played against many a time and we know all about him.

“I’m sure Falkirk will have their hopes pinned on him coming in, hitting the ground running and finding the form he was known for a few seasons ago – hopefully that’ll be after we play them!”

Reynolds added: “Cove have worked well as a unit and been known for keeping clean sheets or the score against them very low.

“So it’s just doing that same thing, but with the appreciation there’s a guy that, if you give him half a chance or a sniff to, he’s going to punish you.”

Falkirk’s Leigh Griffiths and Alloa’s Scott Taggart on what was Griffiths’ debut for the Bairns.

Full-time Falkirk arrive on the back of a 3-0 win at Alloa Athletic – a game in which Griffiths came off the bench to make his debut.

Paul Hartley’s promotion-chasing part-timers Cove, meanwhile, are a slightly-tighter five points clear of second-placed Airdrieonians at the summit after three consecutive draws – against Dumbarton, Airdrie and then a goalless stalemate with Queen’s Park last weekend.

Vastly-experienced centre-half Reynolds, who joined Cove from Premiership Dundee United on the eve of their admirable 1-0 extra time Scottish Cup loss at Premiership Hibs on January 20, has featured heavily in his first few weeks, playing on both the left of a back three – alongside the likes of Morgyn Neill and Scott Ross – as well as in a back four.

He isn’t getting worked up about drawing a few games, not with Cove’s long unbeaten League One record still intact.

Reynolds, who pointed to Cove’s strong squad – most who know what it takes to get league title wins over the line – said: “There’s obviously frustration we’ve not won, especially the game last weekend.

“We dominated possession, moved the ball about, but just kind of lacked that killer touch and finding that opening.

“At this stage of the season, when you’re going for championships, things get nervy. Everybody’s playing for something – teams pushing for automatic promotion, pushing for the play-offs and guys at the other end trying to avoid relegation and the play-offs.

“It’s a tight league and when you get to after Christmas, that run-in, it’s just about picking up points and grinding out results.

“We’ve played those in and about us the last few games, we’ve not been beat and it keeps that momentum.

“But we do want to get back to winning ways and we’ll be looking to do that on Saturday.”

Reynolds getting used to part-time football

Engineering graduate Reynolds – who is hoping to have lined up a nine-to-five job in oil and gas within the next “two or three months” –  is still finding his feet in his first few weeks as a part-time player, having signed on for 18 months at the Balmoral.

This initial part of his transition has been smoothed due to pre-existing relationships with several of Cove’s squad – he already knew of the talents of former Dons youngsters Mitch Megginson, Jamie Masson and Fraser Fyvie, having worked with them at Pittodrie.

His fellow 2014 League Cup-winner with the Dons, right-back Shay Logan, is also at the Balmoral, as are Jevan Anderson and Robbie Leitch – the sons of his former team-mates Russell and Scott, respectively.

In defence, Reynolds has been building a relationship with fellow centre-backs Neill and Ross game-by-game in Cove’s versatile backline, saying: “You look at guys like Ryan Strachan as well who can come in and play there.

Cove Rangers defender Morgyn Neill
Cove Rangers defender Morgyn Neill – one of Reynolds’ fellow centre-backs at the club.

“We’ve got that strength in depth and guys who can play two or three different positions.”

Reynolds added: “It’s like anything, when you get into something new and different to what you’re used to, it takes a bit of time.

“But everything’s been great. I’ve said before I knew what I was going into and Cove was a club I’ve kept an eye on.

“The biggest thing for me has been the day-to-day of getting used to part-time and only training a couple of nights a week.

“You fall into patterns and routines, and in professional football and full-time football you’re led by the hand.

“At part-time, you need to be a bit more responsible for yourself, but I’m lucky at a club like Cove, who’ve got good physios.

“I’ve spoke to Tam Ritchie, the fitness coach, and we’re currently working on getting a programme sorted and trying to get me up to speed. For me, it’s just always been about leaning on these guys’ experience.”