By Blair McNally

Partick Thistle and Cove Rangers both lost ground in the League One title race courtesy of a 1-1 draw at Firhill.

Thistle began the brighter of the pair, however, failed to work a clean effort at goal because of a resolute Cove defence, crosses falling just short of Brian Graham in attack. The visitors started to gain a foothold in the game as it progressed, pouncing on defensive mistakes in the Jags backline.

Cove Rangers v Hibernian - Betfred Cup Match

Hartley’s men were starting to attack. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

The first real chance of the match came five minutes into the second half. Graham picked up the ball 25 yards from goal, producing a lovely weighted ball over the Cove defence, into the path of Shea Gordon. He failed to connect properly with his head, sending the ball wide of the target.

Cove were next to come close ten minutes later. Jamie Masson found himself free on the left wing, cutting inside. He unleashed a curling effort, forcing Partick Thistle defender Richard Foster to retreat, heading off the line.

The winger had an even better chance just minutes later. Cove this time attacked down the right side, whipping a dangerous ball across the face of the Thistle goalmouth. Masson looked destined to stroke home but was denied by a miraculous block from a retreating Gordon.

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The former Motherwell man did well. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Thistle were finally rewarded for their efforts 20 minutes from time. Gordon’s lob found substitute Joe Cardle at the back-post, smashing the ball towards the Cove net and under the arms of Cove goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie.

Thistle were unlucky not to have doubled their lead soon after. Cardle again was menacing, whipping a looping ball over the Cove keeper into the area. The resulting clearance landed in the path of Mouhamed ‘Sena’ Niang, however, he blazed over.

This was to come back to bite Ian McCall’s Thistle as Cove drew level through star man Mitch Megginson with 10 minutes left on the clock. A driving run down the left from Megginson wasn’t closed down by the Thistle defence, giving him time and space to slot home into the bottom right corner.

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Hit the net again. (Photo by Jeff Holmes/Getty Images)

Both teams continued to threaten with great chances, but were unable to take advantage leaving both teams to go home with a point each, Cove four points off League One leaders Falkirk in second place while Thistle find themselves outside a promotion play-off spot in fifth, trailing the Bairns by eight points. Here are three things we learned.

Match sharpness needed

Perhaps a lack of competitive minutes in recent months proved costly in this game for both sides. This was to be expected after three months off after the lower league shutdown due to a surge in Covid-19 cases and both teams will need to find their feet quickly if they are to close the gap on leaders Falkirk.

Effective style of play

Cove evidently came with a plan to soak up Thistle pressure and hit on the counter and they will go home the happier of the pair. Paul Hartley’s men executed their plan almost perfectly, limiting the home side to chances despite being dominated and leave Maryhill with a point.

Decision making

With match sharpness comes decision making which proved vital in this game. Numerous defensive mishaps were pounced on and could easily have been goals. There were vital misses throughout too, which could have turned one point into three for either side.

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