Jim McIntyre praised “model professional” Gerry McDonagh for helping grab Cove Rangers a point against Ayr United.
McDonagh, on just his second league start of the season, scored the equaliser in a highly entertaining 2-2 draw at Somerset Park.
The striker broke his wrist against Queen’s Park and has endured a largely frustrating campaign since relocating to the north-east.
But with the Cove boss changing system – owing to the five players he had missing – McDonagh was pitched in alongside Mitch Megginson up front.
“It’s been tough – he’s living away from his young family,” said McIntyre. “He showed that commitment to come up here and he’s been nothing but supportive when he’s not been playing.
“Sometimes when players aren’t playing they can throw the toys out the pram but I’ve got to be honest, he’s been a model professional and bided his time.
“He’s waited for an opportunity – his wrist is better now – and I thought him and Mitch showed a good understanding today.
“Mitch likes to drop off the game and Gerry has got that physical presence. It worked well.
“We changed the system and we’ve got the energy in the middle of the park with Charlie (Gilmour) and Blair (Yule).
“We went with two up top – Gerry has been nursing his way back from a broken wrist and I thought he did brilliantly, considering he’s not had a lot of game-time of late.
“You could see he was breathing heavily at the end of the game but it’s great for him to get the goal. It’s a great finish because when the goalkeeper is coming at you at pace, it’s easy to panic. But he slotted it lovely.”
It was a game in which both goalkeepers, Charlie Albinson and Kyle Gourlay, were tested repeatedly, owing to the frantic nature of the game.
After chances for Luis Longstaff and Frankie Musonda, Ayr went in front on 29 minutes as Dipo Akinyemi reacted quickest to turn home after Gourlay parried Logan Chalmers’ shot.
Cove responded when Longstaff’s cross was headed goalward by Blair Yule. Albinson saved the initial attempt but Connor Scully followed up to level the scores.
Chalmers was the provider again to restore the home side’s advantage when his corner was met at the back post by an unmarked Alex Kirk to head in.
McDonagh’s goal came seven minutes into the second half as neat build-up play from Megginson and Longstaff presented him an opportunity, as he slotted the ball past Albinson.
The Ayr stopper made a great one-handed save to deny Megginson a winner and Cove’s Gourlay was on hand to gather Andy Murdoch’s effort, as both sides had to settle for a point.
“It was like a basketball game at times,” said McIntyre. “Two teams who were trying to win the game and putting pressure on the opposition defence.
“When the game is like that you need your goalkeeper to make saves and a wee bit of luck at times. We showed great resilience and character to come back again, because it’s quite easy to feel it’s not going your way.
“We said at half-time not to panic because we were playing some really good stuff. We just needed to be better in front of goal and it was great to see us get that equaliser.”
AYR UNITED (4-4-2) – Albinson 6; Houston 6, Musonda 6, Kirk 6, Reading 6, Mullin 7, Dempsey 6, Murdoch 7, Chalmers 8 (Ashford 78), Young 6 (McKenzie 78), Akinyemi 7 (Mitchell-Lawson 78). Subs not used – McAdams, O’Connor, McGinty, Bangala, McAllister, Smith.
COVE RANGERS (4-4-2) – Gourlay 6; Johnston 6, Sanders 6, Reynolds 6, Towler 6 (Leitch 63), Longstaff 7 (Dunne 90), Yule 6, Gilmour 7, Scully 6, McDonagh 7 (Vigurs 88), Megginson 7. Subs not used – Ross, Neill.
Referee – Callum Scott.
Attendance – 1,847.
Man of the match – Logan Chalmers.