COVE Rangers came out on top by a single goal after extra time on Tuesday (February 12) in a hard fought Morrison Motors Turriff Aberdeenshire Shield tie played in atrocious weather conditions with continuous snow making play tricky for both teams.
With some key players missing in both line ups, it looked wide open and full credit to Arthur Robertson and his ground staff helpers for getting the pitch playable. The early stages were played at breakneck pace
It was the Aberdeen side who had the best opening so far in 14 minutes, Alan Redford sticking the ball in the net but in an offside position from Eric Watson’s flick on. It was then almost an own goal when Roy McBain set off Jordan Leyden on the left. His cross went over John Maitland’s head, Andy Low conceding the corner but his clearance not far away from the post.
Cove ha a period of latching on to the second balls and with their tricky front line trio flexible in their run making, Locos were having to stand their ground and get into the game. They did that in 25 minutes, Andy Low’s dinked pass slowing up on the surface allowing Scott Begg to beat Stuart McKenzie to the ball. The former Brora man rounded the keeper and rolled the ball towards the empty goal only for Eric Watson to get back and clear at the last gasp.
Just before the half hour an inviting ball from the left by Low was just too high for any takers while at the other end left wing back Stirling Smith’s rocket cross “rumbled up” the home defence. It landed at the back post where right wing back Blair Yule rattled it back but the eventual shot was blocked.
In 38 minutes, Cove had a second goal disallowed for offside, Jordan Leyden failing to beat the trap on the rebound after Jamie Lennox powered in the shot.
Just before half-time captain Neil McLean, playing at sweeper again, had to be clever to make a last ditch clearance after Ryan Stott tried to set up Leyden.
Ten minutes after the restart Andy Reid showed his experience in diving at the feet of Leyden without tripping and pushing the ball away from danger with his hand.
Severe pressure from the left by Cove came on the hour, a ball zipped in landing for Eric Watson to rattle against the post then the ball was headed off the line from the corner.
Leyden was away again two minutes later but shot wide from good position, however Locos got their composure back, Jack Strachan linking with Andy Bagshaw but the cross along the face of goal was too strong.
Andy Reid made a point blank save to foil Stott as the game headed to an inevitable goalless outcome, the last chance falling to Connor Scully after a series of passes around the box, but the No 8 skied high from good position.
In 96 minutes the opening and winning goal. Ryan Stott’s hard hit in-swinging free kick from the right flank swept high into the net by skipper Eric WATSON.
Three minutes later Stuart McKay had the chance right in front of goal from a dangerous chipped free kick from sub left back Ally Graham who has been on loan at Maud in recent months.
With time racing on Locos were adapting their personnel to suit and going for it, Mckay was almost in again after the link up with Bagshaw. And an equaliser looked on when the marauding Kieran Adams raced right in on goal but the combined attentions of Roddy Black and Stuart McKenzie froze him out.
How happy were the supporters, players and everyone else to hear the final whistle? Extra time in brutal conditions the last thing both clubs wanted and there will inevitably be players feeling the pace ahead of their weekend fixtures
Locos: Reid, Park, Maitland (Graham), Souter (Broadhurst), Adams, McLean, Strachan, Begg, Bagshaw, McKay, Low (Park) Subs: Ross, Coull
Cove McKenzie, Yule (Thomson), Smith, Black, Watson, Redford, Lennox (Taylor), McBain, Scully, Leyden, Stott Subs: MacAulay, Goate Capstick