Cove Rangers maintained their five point lead over Airdrie at the top of League 1 after an impressive 4-1 Balmoral Stadium victory over Clyde in which they had to play almost an hour a man short after Harry Milne’s controversial red card.
The league leaders went on the attack right from the off and Connor Scully’s 12th minute effort came off keeper Gary Maley’s left upright before Blair Yule hit the opposite post three minutes later.
A minute later Rory McAllister’s glancing header from a Scully cross wasn’t far away while, at the other end, Clyde skipper Ally Love was the next to hit the woodwork with an effort that beat Stuart McKenzie.
On the half hour, Cove’s pressure paid off when McAllister’s powerful run and shot from the right crashed off the junction of the post and crossbar, the ball falling kindly for Mitch Meggison who, with Maley already committed, slotted home for his 20th goal of the season.
Five minutes later, in a rare Clyde breakaway, Barry Cuddihy fired a fierce shot that had McKenzie beaten but was brilliantly chested off the line by Milne.
The assistant referee waved for handball by the defender and Milne was shown a straight red by referee Craig Napier much to the amazement of the home support. Skipper Love made no mistake from the resultant spot kick.
On the stroke of half-time, a great Scully run down the left ended with the visiting defence only able to half clear, the ball being met by Fraser Fyvie, who powered home from the edge of the box for his ninth of the season.
Five minutes after the restart, a Fyvie corner fell to Mark Reynolds, just inside the area, and the experienced defender swivelled before hitting a fierce left foot effort into the net.
And with 20 minutes remaining, McAllister’s exquisite pass saw substitute Leighton McIntosh clear on goal and, despite the efforts of Maley and full back Mark Docherty, trundled into the net via the post.
Manager Paul Hartley was understandably delighted at the manner in which his side responded to the sending off.
He said: “I thought we were comfortable after we went down a man and that was really pleasing.
“I don’t think we were put under too much pressure and we scored some really good goals at the right time.
“At this stage of the season, it’s all about winning so it’s another great three points for us.
“I’ve got to say, it’s not a sending off and it’s one we’ll definitely appeal.”
Hartley is pleased with the way Reynolds has settled into the club following his January move from Dundee United.
He said: “Mark has settled in really well, he has great experience, he’s calm, a good defender and it was nice that he got a goal.
“It was a really strong team performance, people were sliding in at different positions but that’s what you’ve got to do, keep working, keep battling and win as many as you can.”
🗣 Manager Paul Hartley shared his thoughts following our 4-1 victory over Clyde this afternoon
Listen here 👇 pic.twitter.com/Z5sYpxbvdm
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) March 12, 2022
Connor Scully felt the sending off didn’t affect the course of the game.
He said: “It’s a real team spirit, I thought everyone dug in, it was a great performance from the lads and I actually thought we played better after the sending off but we’re just taking one game at a time.
“I actually thought Harry’s clearance was one of the best I’d ever seen and I was right behind it.”