Mitch Megginson ensured Cove Rangers marked their return to League One action with a creditable draw against Partick Thistle at Firhill.
The Cove skipper struck with eight minutes to go to earn a deserved point for Paul Hartley’s side, after Joe Cardle had put the Jags in front.
The game only came to life in the second period but the spoils were shared, keeping Cove in second spot in the table.
Cammy Logan, the defender on loan from Championship leaders Hearts, was handed his Cove debut, with Scott Ross absent through injury. Ross Graham also started after rejoining on loan from Dundee United.
In the reverse fixture between the two sides at the Balmoral Stadium in October, Cove nicked a 1-0 win at the death thanks to Rory McAllister’s late winner.
Thistle were fashioning half-chances in the early exchanges, without forcing Stuart McKenzie into any meaningful saves. Darren Brownlie headed wide from a corner and James Penrice was getting some joy down the left, but the Aberdeen side were holding their full-time opponents in check.
Leighton McIntosh, who has mainly been played in a wide role this season, was instead deployed in a central striking role manned up against Mouhamed Niang. On a couple of occasions he had the defender in trouble pressuring him back towards his own goal, with Niang ill-at-ease in possession.
The link-up play between Logan and Blair Yule down the right was proving useful for Cove, with the full-back able to push on into more advanced positions with Yule dropping in to cover. The latter, who has also played at right-back and central midfield, never ceases to deliver for his side regardless of where he plays.
Yule was the bright spark of an enterprising, disciplined performance. Jamie Masson was becoming more of an influence down the left and crafted a couple of openings, with only a Thistle intervention denying Yule free header from two yards out.
McIntosh got through a power of work without getting the luck is persistence deserved, while Megginson, who signed a three-year contract extension last week, held at bay by the home defence.
After 70 minutes of precious few shots at goal, Partick scored with their first attempt on target. Substitute Cardle was picked out at on the right side of the penalty area, shimmied to throw Adam Livingstone out of his sight of goal and struck through the Cove goalkeeper at his near post.
70’ | PTFC 1-0 #CRFC
Cardle opens the scoring for Partick.#CRFCLive
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) March 20, 2021
It was harsh on Cove who had matched Thistle for the rest of the game but had not shown the quality to break them down as yet. They were fortunate not to go further behind too, with Yule clearing Cardle’s cross off the line into Niang’s path but he blazed high over McKenzie’s crossbar.
When they needed a moment of inspiration, though, Megginson was the man to provide it. Collecting a pass from a falling Fyvie, Megginson rolled across the Thistle backline before scrambling in a shot through a crowd of players.
The game now resembled two boxers, aware the final bell was coming and willing to take risks. Megginson was played through again by Rory McAllister with five minutes to go, only for Kieran Wright to smother his attempt.
McKenzie was called into action to keep out Chris Erskine but neither side was able to find the winner in an entertaining contest.