MAGNIFICENT SEVEN FOR COVE AS THEY SHOOT DOWN FORRES TO BECOME HIGHLAND LEAGUE CHAMPIONS YET AGAIN
CHAMPIONS!: Cove Rangers manager John Sheran and his players celebrate winning the club’s seventh Highland League title.
GOAL-DEN STRIKE: Mitch Megginson lashes the ball into the net for the winning goal at Forres.
Forres Mechanics 0 Cove Rangers 1
Breedon Highland League
Saturday April 13, 2019
At Mosset Park
COVE Rangers clinched the Breedon Highland League title with a narrow , but deserved , 1-0 victory over Forres Mechanics.
Mitch Megginson netted the only goal at Mosset Park, and his 46th of the campaign, to secure what is also Cove’s seventh league title since 2001, underlying their status as the most successful side at Highland level over the last two decades.
The men from Balmoral saw off the challenge of Brora Rangers with a game to spare and now face Lowland League champions in the SPFL Pyramid play-off, with the first leg at the end of this month.
There was a pre-match blow for Cove when full-back Harry Milne had to be withdrawn from the starting line-up because of a strained hamstring.
His place was taken by veteran Alan Redford.
Forres were clearly up for the task of spoiling Cove’s title party and would have taken the lead in the lead in the sixth minute were it not for a brilliant save from Stuart McKenzie.
Andy MacRae’s 20 yard shot was going in until the Cove keeper dived full length to his left to push the ball wide of the post.
It was just the latest of many crucial saves made by McKenzie to ensure they could go on and record an astonishing 26th league shut out of the campaign at Forres.
Megginson had Cove’s first effort on target, a volley from the edge of the area that was held by home keeper Stuart Knight.
Forres broke forward again but McKenzie was well positioned to gather another well hit shot from the lively MacRae.
Ryan Strachan tried his luck with a 35 yard free kick and his effort only cleared the Forres bar by a couple of feet.
Cove took the lead in the 24th minute with a move instigated by a wonderful cross field pass from Connor Scully to send Daniel Park clear on the right.
He then advanced into the Forres area before driving in a low cross that was swept home by MEGGINSON from the edge of the six yard box.
Scott Ross almost made it 2-0 with a diving header from a Park corner that went just wide.
Forres threatened again on the half hour when McKenzie failed to hold a Ross Duncanson free kick that got caught up in the swirling wind.
MacRae had a shot blocked before the ball was eventually booted clear.
Ross was unlucky again, in the 34th minute, when his header from a Scully cross bounced wide of Forres keeper Knight’s left post.
The half ended with McKenzie doing well to beat away a powerful drive from Donaldson.
Cove were forced to make a change on the hour, when Sam Burnett replaced the injured Masson.
The Cove sub was involved almost immediately, meeting a cross from Park to send a 16 yard shot over.
Burnett also started the move that ended with Megginson laying the ball off for Park to hit an 18 yard shot that was held by Knight.
Cove were desperately unlucky not to go two up in the 70th minute when Jimmy Scott cut the ball back from the left to Park and his 12 yard shot rebounded to safety off the woodwork.
That was the last real chance and there were wild scenes at the final whistle as the Cove players celebrated be champions again in front of their large and noisy army of fans.
FORRES MECHANICS: Knight, Johnstone, MacPherson (Paterson 80), Fraser, Milne, Miller (Moore 67’), MacRae, Farquhar, Duncanson (MacPhee 80), Howarth, Sloane.
Subs: Groat, Ward, Brown.
COVE RANGERS: McKenzie, Kelly, Redford, , Ross, Strachan, Scully, Yule, Park (MacRae 80), Scott, Megginson, Masson (Burnett 60).
Subs: Watson, Brown, McManus, McCafferty, C Milne.
Referee: Dan McFarlane.