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Scottish Cup 3rd Round: Partick Thistle 2-1 Cove Rangers

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[media-credit name=”Pic: Liam McFadden” align=”aligncenter” width=”580″][/media-credit]

Ten man Thistle survived a late scare to secure a place in the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup after seeing off a plucky Cove Rangers.

The First Division leaders dominated the match leading 2-0 at the break, but were made to sweat towards the end after Danny Milne pulled a goal back for the Highlanders.

But despite their best efforts the visitors were unable to land what would have been a lucrative replay with the Maryhill men continuing their excellent form, which has seen them grab pole position in the First Division along with reaching the Ramsdens Cup Final.

Thistle took the game by the scruff of the neck straight from kick off and with five minutes played, neat wing play from Stevie Lawless set up Chris Erskine who shot wide of the left hand post.

The Jags came even closer to breaking the deadlock four minutes later when full back Stephen O’Donnell tested Cove keeper Stuart McKenzie.

It was only a matter of time before Thistle made the breakthrough and Jackie McNamara’s side duly delivered, taking the lead with twelve minutes on the clock when Ross Forbes curled in a right footed shot from just outside the box.

The hosts were reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Steven Craig for a reckless kick out at Eric Watson on 26 minutes.

The straight red given by Mike Tumilty was perhaps a tad harsh, but Thistle boss Jackie McNamara would have been furious that the red mist had taken hold of the experienced striker leading him to lash out at the Cove midfielder.

Being a man down did not appear to have a detrimental effect on Thistle, who were to increase their lead on 37 minutes, when Cove defender Alan Redford headed a O’Donnell cross past his own keeper.

The Highland League outfit were presented with an opportunity to pull one back in the 58th minute when they were awarded a debatable penalty as the referee deemed Conrad Balatoni had handled in the box.

Danny Milne, introduced only a minute earlier as a substitute, stepped up to take the penalty but his spot kick attempt was parried away by Jags keeper Scott Fox who up to that point could have swapped his place on the park for a seat in the stand such was the ineffectiveness of the Cove attack.

Erskine emulated his poor first half effort in the 72nd minute firing wide when he should have really tested McKenzie in the Cove goal and increase Thistle’s lead.

With five minutes remaining suddenly there was hope for the visitors as Milne made up for his poor penalty to pull one back after firing in a fantastic eighteen yard effort which ghosted past Fox.

But the Glasgow side held on and can now focus on next week’s mouth watering top of the table clash against fellow promotion chasers Dunfermline, though boss McNamara bemoaned the fact he will have to do without the services of Craig.

He said: “It’s been a bit of a bad week for us with injuries to both Stuart Bannigan and Sean Welsh and now we are missing Steven for our next match through suspension. I can’t have any complaints over the red card though, it was petulant and silly.

“We were a bit naive at times too with our full backs going forward like wingers when we were down to ten men and that’s not good for my health.”

Cove gaffer Kevin Tindall was not too downbeat, instead he was full of praise for his charges. He said: “Proud is the word of today. It was important we stuck to a game plan so I was frustrated with the goals we lost but I told the lads to go out and win the second half and I think we did that.”

Thistle have joined forces with the Scot Guards and PoppyScotland ahead of the Dunfermline match with members of the Armed Forces being granted free entry to next Saturday’s big match.

Partick: Fox, O’Donnell, Sinclair, Paton, Muirhead, Balatoni, Lawless (Elliott 63), Doolan (Slane 63), Craig, Forbes, Erskine (Rowson 80)

Subs: Scully, Archibald

Cove Rangers: McKenzie, Yule, Lawrie, Emslie, Redford, Watson, Singer (McCulloch 46) Beagrie, Johnston, Leyden (Milne 57), Scully (Scott 68)

Subs: Scott, Capstick, Black

Referee: Mike Tumilty

Att: 1957

Report by Robbie Devine at Firhill

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