A direct Cove Rangers performance underlined their current woes as they were beaten comprehensively by Partick Thistle 5-0.
Goals from Scott Tiffoney and Steven Lawless put Partick two clear at the break, with Brian Graham, Kevin Holt and Danny Mullen finding the net in the second.
It continues Cove’s plummet towards the bottom of the Championship – they have one once in 14 – with Paul Hartley’s side only handed a reprieve by Hamilton’s drubbing at Dundee.
Played through on goal by Mitch Megginson early, Leighton McIntosh had the first opportunity after three minutes but goalkeeper David Mitchell blocked his shot. Luis Longstaff shot well over from the rebound.
Just when they were needing a settling-in period, Cove found themselves behind. The ball was played into Graham’s feet and he turned it immediately into Tiffoney’s path, with the winger escaping the attentions of Jason Naismith to score.
It took seven minutes for Partick to extend their lead and again it was a Cove player at fault. Ross Docherty hooked a high ball into the box and Scott Fox, coming through a crowd of players, failed to grasp it. After a brief scramble, Lawless through the bodies to double the visitors’ advantage fired.
Partick came close to putting a third past a beleaguered Cove on 27 minutes. Jack McMillan was played in down the right and while his attempt was parried by Fox, the ball fell to Kyle Turner. He headed goalwards but Morgyn Neill recovered to clear off the line.
Substitute Cieran Dunne, who came on in the first period to replace an injured McIntosh, summed up Cove’s luck of late, hitting the inside of the post when he was rolled in by Connor Scully.
Fox kept out Lawless, Graham and Tiffoney before the interval to keep the deficit at two.
Cove needed a lifeline to get themselves back in the game at the start of the second half but instead found themselves four down just after the hour.
First, Graham was inexplicably allowed to collect Turner’s pass and meander 40 yards through the Cove defense and finish. Then Holt got across his man to meet Turner’s free kick and glanced at the ball into the far corner.
Partick got their fifth in the closing stages as Mullen met Zander MacKenzie’s cross to head home.
Defensive fragilities come to the fore again
The ease of which Cove have been conceding goals of late has been frightening and again it was their undoing.
They were beaten comfortably eight days ago down at Ayr, with defensive errors contributing to their downfall that night.
History continued to repeat itself here. Naismith should have done better with the first goal, not tracking Tiffoney’s run and then not getting to grips with him as he went past.
The second was poor play from Fox, who ought to have let the defenders in front of him deal with the high ball but only got the slightest of touches on the ball before Lawless scored.
For the third, Graham picked up the ball 10 yards into the Cove half and the defense backed away, allowing him to carry and carry until he reached the penalty area. There was a half-hearted attempt to block his shot, with the wrong-footing Fox deflection.
It has become a broken record repeating this flaw over recent weeks but that is the main reason why Cove is heading in the wrong direction.
Partick playing the football Cove fans have been used to seeing
The fluidity of Partick’s front three proved difficult for Cove to deal with.
Lawless, Turner and Tiffoney were constantly on the move, searching for pockets of space and offering passing lanes for their midfield.
Their decision-making was crisp and they kept the ball moving, not allowing Cove to settle in their shape.
It is the kind of attractive, enterprising play which became a hallmark of Cove’s play coming through the leagues.
Sadly that has been lacking this season as the Aberdeen side have struggled for performances and results on their Championship debut.
COVE RANGERS (4-4-2) – Fox 5; Logan 5, Naismith 4, Neill 5 (Ross 60), Longridge 5, Longstaff 5 (Weston 84), Yule 5 (Virtanen 84), Scully 5, O’Halloran 4, Megginson 5, McIntosh 5 (Dunne 25). Subs not used – Gourlay, Vigurs, Bangala, Glass, Reynolds.
PARTICK THISTLE (4-2-3-1) – Mitchell 6; McMillan 7, Muirhead 6, Holt 6, Hodson 6 (Brownlie 43), Bannigan 6, Docherty 7, Lawless 7 (Fitzpatrick 63), Turner 8 (Mullen 69), Tiffoney 7 (MacKenzie 63), Graham 7 (Dowds 68). Subs not used – Sneddon, Smith, McKinnon, Lyon.
Referee – Duncan Williams 6.
Attendance – 1,044.
Kyle Turner – A constant menace to the Cove defense, floating into pockets of space and dove-tailing superbly with his fellow forward players.
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[Cove Rangers 0-5 Partick Thistle: Hosts’ relegation woes deepen]