Fraserburgh 1 Cove Rangers 0

Breedon Highland League
Saturday December 1, 2018
At Bellslea Park


UPSET: Cove boss John Sheran, who was sent from the dug out during a controversial 90 minutes up in Frasrburgh.

COVE Rangers saw their unbeaten run in the Breedon Highland League ended  in a highly controversial battle with Broch at Bellslea.
They fell behind after just 29 seconds, to a strike from Scott Barbour, but battled back to dominate a second half that was packed with debatable  decisions made by the match officials that caused frustration and confusion in both camps.
Cove midfielder Blair Yule was sent off with 23 minutes to go after getting a second caution .... but that only came after Broch striker Paul Campbell should have picked up his second booking.
It would have been interesting to see what the outcome was had it been the home side and not Cove, who were seeking a 17th successive league win, who had to see out the game with 10 men.
Cove were also upset when referee Dan McFarlane changed his mind after awarding them a penalty on a crazy afternoon that also included Stuart McKenzie making his fourth spot kick save of the campaign and Cove manager John Sheran being banished to the stand.
There was a blow for Cove when it was confirmed 30 goal striker Mitch Megginson had been ruled out because of a thigh injury.
With veteran striker Paul McManus also injured they were forced to play midfielder Daniel Park up front.
Cove got off to the worst possible start when Ryan Cowie pumped a long ball up through the middle of the park and BARBOUR managed to wriggle away from Scott Ross to score with a well hit shot from 10 yards ... with less than half a minute gone on the clock.
Cove did their best to recover from that setback by creating several chances, despite not being at their very best.
Daniel Park saw a powerful 22-yard free kick held by home keeper Paul Leask before Connor Scully tried his luck with a 25-yard drop volley that went just wide.
Broch were handed a glorious chance to  increase their lead when referee McFarlane awarded them a penalty in the 25th minute, after Barbour had crashed to the turf as he was being challenged by Ross.
It looked a soft decision but Cove's frustration was eased when McKenzie stood strong and managed to save Campbell's effort from the spot.
Park tried again with another free-kick, from 19 yards, but his low drive was held by Leask.
Campbell's pain over missing the penalty was compounded when he was cautioned in the 28th minute, for simulation, after falling dramatically in the Cove area as he was being tackled by Darryn  Kelly.
Cove were desperately unlucky not to equalise in the 32nd minute, when Leask made a brilliant save by pushing Yule's net bound 18 yard shot over his crossbar.
Cove brought Jordon Brown on for Ryan Ferguson for the restart and began to dominate proceedings.
The fact Broch central defender Ryan Christie was their star performer underlined how much under the cosh they were.
Fraserburgh should  have been reduced in numbers in the 57th minute when Campbell fell dramatically inside the Cove box again - and also blatantly grabbed the ball as he fell.
Referee McFarlane clearly motioned to take out one of his cards, which would have meant curtains for Campbell.
But he had changed his mind by the time he reached the striker and chose to just lecture the Broch frontman instead.
Cove thought they had been awarded a penalty in the 64th minute when MacRae was chopped down by Lewis Davidson as he broke clear inside the area.
McFarlane looked to be preparing to also dish out a card to Davidson until the home players pointed out assistant Craig Veitch had his flag raised.
After a lengthy discussion McFarlane signalled for offside against a Cove player, before the tackle of MacRae had been made, which meant he cancelled his penalty decision too.
Cove had no complaints when Yule received his second caution in the 67th minute for a rough tackle on Cowie, but they were right to feel hard done by because the referee had failed to deal with Campbell property earlier.
The confusion continued when the match officials delayed Cove's attempt to replace MacRae, who had already been taken off, with Ryan Strachan, in the 69th minute.
That decision clearly frustrated Cove boss Sheran and he was even more annoyed when referee McFarlane sprinted across and sent him from the dug out for complaining about the unnecessary delay in making the substitution, which was clearly down to the match officials.
In fairness to Cove, they were by far the better side for the remainder of the game, despite being down to 10 men and having their manager banished to the terracing.
Brown was unlucky not to equalise with a flying header after Masson had picked him out with a cross from the right.
The former Aberdeen player also saw a 19 yard shot held by Leask as Cove pinned their hosts, who didn't have a single shot on target in the second period, back in their own half in the dying minutes.
Substitute Eric Watson twice came close to rescuing Cove during the four minutes of injury time added on by McFarlane.
He turned well inside the Broch area to hit a decent shot that was held by Leask.
The Cove defender then looked poised to have another go at Leask from 16 yards as the ball dropped into has path but it took an awkward bounce and that allowed Christie to clear and ensure Broch had the honour of becoming the first side to beat the champions in the league this season.

FRASERBURGH: Leask, Davidson, Hay, Cowie, Christie, Buchan, Baigrie (MacDonald 86), Young,  Campbell (Butcher 89), Buchan (Combe 73), Barbour.
Subs: Simpson, Flinn.

COVE RANGERS: McKenzie, Redford, H Milne, Yule, Ross, Kelly, Park, Scully, MacRae (Strachan 69), Ferguson (Brown 46), Masson (Watson 81).
Subs: C Milne, MacLeod.

Referee: Dan McFarlane.