Lossiemouth and Cove Rangers played out an entertaining goalless draw at a chilly Grant Park, with both sides creating enough chances to take all three points. The best chance fell to the hosts in the shape of a second half penalty award, but Callum Dunbar scuffed his effort wide of goal.
Lossie gave Shawn Scott his first home game since beginning his fourth spell at the club, while Darren Bailey missed out due to suspension following his sending off at Deveronvale at the weekend. Cove arrived on the back of a defeat at Turriff, which itself followed a loss on penalties to Buckie Thistle in the Highland League Cup, and the Toonsers weak defence of their title has left manager Kevin Tindal wondering which game will be his last.
Rumours of Cove’s demise appeared to have been overplayed, at least in the early stages, as the Tooners moved about the park at pace with Michael Selfridge and Ryan Scott tearing down the wing and stretching Lossie at the back. Selfridge had the first chance of the game, flashing a shot across the face of goal, before Stirling Smith tested Errol Watson with a shot from outside the area.
Lossie’s new and experienced strike force of Ryan Green and Shawn Scott were looking sharp and Biscuits added a new dimension to a hardworking side that has occasionally looked a little short on ideas. Callum Dunbar came closest to breaking the deadlock when he took possession from a cleared corner and rattled the crossbar with long range effort.
The chances kept coming for both sides, with Biscuits again trying to find his shooting boots by firing an effort at Reid from outside the area, but power was sacrificed for accuracy and the Cove keeper held onto the ball comfortably. At the other end, Connor Scully drew a diving save from Watson as the game continued to flow from end to end.
The half drew to a close in controversial style. With the ball heading out for a throw in to Lossie on the enclosure side of the pitch and Scott Dunn jogging after it, Clark Bain attempted to win possession but in doing so decided to shove Dunn in the back of the head, leaving the Lossie man in a heap. The referee flashed the red card at the raging Bain who seemed surprised at the outcome of his actions, leaving his team in the lurch and Lossie with an advantage going into the second half.
Half time – Lossiemouth 0-0 Cove Rangers
The opening stages of the second half were dominated by the visitors, and Smith and Selfridge were again causing problems for Lossie, with the former slicing wide a shot from 25 yards before Selfridge brought out another save from Watson.
Ten minutes into the half, Lossie were handed a chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot. A foul on Scott Miller saw the referee point to the spot, and after a conversation with his linesman who initially pointed to the corner flag, Callum Dunbar steadied himself for the spot kick and proceeded to scuff it wide of the right hand post with the keeper looking on.
The miss failed to dampen the hosts enthusiasm and Scott Wilson almost made up for Dunbars miss when he careered into the box and thumped a shot just wide of the same post.
With time running out, Cove knew the next goal would win the game and Connor Scully stung the palms of Watson with a curling free kick from the edge of the area. A rash of substitutes slowed the tempo of the game briefly, but neither side seemed happy to settle for a point. The fresh legs of Jamie Lennox were instrumental in creating the best chance of the half for Cove when he sprinted through the defence and into the box, only to find Watson once again on hand to deflect the ball out for a corner.
Neither side could improve on the chances created thus far in the closing stages and the game finished goalless, and both sides left the pitch arguing their case for all three points. The results moves Lossie closer to Keith and within a point of doubling last seasons total with games to spare, while for Cove the draw ends a poor run of form but does nothing to help them claw their way back into the top half of the table. The sides will meet again in Aberdeen sometime before the end of the season, with the date still to be arranged.
Full time – Lossiemouth 0-0 Cove Rangers
Lossiemouth – Errol Watson, Tony Ross, Scott Wilson, Kevin Flett, Grant Mitchell, Greig Watson (Jordan McBain, 76), Scott Miller, Callum Dunbar, Shawn Scott, Ryan Green, Scott Dunn (Ryan Farquhar, 72)
Cove Rangers – Craig Reid, Stuart Walker, Roy McBain (Jamie Lennox, 74), Stirling Smith, Mark Perry, Alan Redford, Michael Selfridge, Clark Bain, Jonathan Smith (Chris Clark, 67), Connor Scully, Ryan Scott