MACRAE TOP OF THE CLASS AS STUDENTS ARE SEEN OFF IN MORRISON MOTORS ABERDEENSHIRE SHIELD
Aberdeen University 1 Cove Rangers 3
Morrison Motors Aberdeenshire Shield, first round
At Hillhead, Wednesday October 10, 2018
JORDAN MacRae's second hat-trick for Cove Rangers was enough to see the trophy holders through a scrappy tie Hillhead.
Credit has to go to the students of Aberdeen University for working hard and being well organised to ensure Cove never really got into full stride.
Despite that, and the fact manager John Sheran chose to rest some regulars, Cove were always in charge and never under any threat of defeat as they booked a home clash with Formartine United in the next round.
Former Nairn County hitman MacRae was Cove's stand out performer and a constant threat to the home defence.
He went close in the 10th minute when he met Hamish MacLeod's left wing cross but saw his shot from the edge of the six yard box go across the face of the goal and wide.
MacLeod then set up Jamie Masson with a clever cut back but the midfielder's net bound shot hit the head of a University defender and went behind for a corner.
Jordon Brown almost scored in the 16th minute when his header off a Harry Milne cross sped across the front of the goal and went inches wide.
Ross Clark then tried his luck from distance for the home side but his shot was easily gathered by Cove keeper John McCafferty.
Uni keeper Iain Mackenzie denied Cove with an outstanding save in the 26th minute.
Masson's thundering first time volley from 18 yards, after a corner had been knocked out into his path, was going in until the keeper dived to tip the ball wide of his left post.
Cove finally made the breakthrough in the 34th minute, when Connor Scully's sublime through pass cut through the University defence like a hot knife through butter and left MACRAE with the easy task of lashing the ball home from 12 yards.
University's best chance of the half came a minute later when Ryan Grant got in behind the Cove defence on the right.
Cammy Milne came to the rescue with a perfectly timed tackle to cut out Grant's cross and clear the danger.
Cove were denied a blatant penalty in the 39th minute when Brown was clearly chopped down by a defender as he prepared to shoot from 10 yards.
To everyone in the ground's dismay, referee Scott Leslie ignored the Cove appeals and waved play on.
Cove responded by scoring the goal of the night a minute later.
Blair Yule's neat pass found Daniel Park in space on the right and his pinpoint cross was powerfully headed home by MACRAE from eight yards.
Cove dominated the second period too, although they continued to find the University defence hard to break down.
Harry Milne nearly got the third, on the hour, when he got on the end of a Masson cross and sent a six yard header across the goal and wide of the keeper's right post.
The left-back then limped off with a knee injury, although the damage isn't thought to be serious.
He was replaced by Ryan Ferguson, with Mitch Megginson coming on for Park soon afterwards.
McCafferty made a decent save in the 76th minute, when he dived to hold Ross Clark's powerful 22 yard shot.
It was all over when Cove got their third in the 82nd minute, after Brown was again chopped down inside the University penalty area.
This time the referee rightly awarded the spot-kick, which MACRAE battered under the diving Mackenzie to bring his tally for the campaign so far to seven.
Cove were awarded another penalty two minutes later, after Charlie Unsworth had clipped the heels of Megginson as he raced in on goal.
Home defender Sam McLaren was red carded for swearing at referee Leslie as he protested about the decision, but it was the correct one.
Normal penalty taker Megginson took it but hit his shot too straight at Mackenzie and allowed the keeper to beat the ball away to safety.
The 10 men Uni side then grabbed a late consolation when GRANT was left unmarked in the Cove box and drilled a low shot home from 14 yards.
It took a little of the shine off a hard earned but comfortable victory for the Cove.
Cove will face Formartine, who beat Deveronvale 5-1 at home, in the second round at Balmoral Stadium on Wednesday November 7, 8pm.
ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY: Mackenzie, Levein, Unsworth, Lechener, McLaren, Walker, Patel (Williams 70), Grant, Toufique (Crawford 90), Ogwuru, Clark (Reynolds 82).
Subs: Nacef, Forbes.
COVE RANGERS: McCafferty, Yule, H Milne (Ferguson 62), Scully, C Milne, Kelly, Park (Megginson 65), Masson, MacRae, Briwn, MacLeod.
Subs: Ross, Ellis.
Referee: Scott Leslie.