SO CLOSE: Harry Milne looks on as his shot rebounds off the Peterhead crossbar during the Betfred Cup clash at Balmoor Stadium.

BATTLING AWAY: Blair Yule (2) and Jordon Brown fight Peterhead’s Willie Gibson for possession during the Betfred Cup clash at Balmoor Stadium.

COVE Rangers manager Paul Hartley says he is stepping up efforts to strengthen his squad ahead of our first season playing in League Two.
Paul was speaking after seeing his weakened Cove side lose 2-1 to Peterhead in their opening Group D match in the Betfred League Cup.
Cove started the clash at Balmoor Stadium without Jimmy Scott, who was serving a suspension carried over from last season.
We were then denied the services of last term’s top scorer Mitch Megginson after just 17 minutes when he suffered a leg knock.
Cove were also restricted to naming just four substitutes for the tie because Jamie Redman, Ryan Strachan, Grant Campbell and defender Alan Redford were all missing through injury.

Cove boss Paul is confident his squad will be a lot stronger by the time we face Edinburgh City on August 3 in our league opener.
“Another striker has always been on our wish list,” said Paul.
“We need to be stronger in that department to cover for injuries and suspensions.
“We are short in another couple of areas too, which is why we could only put three outfield players on the bench, with one of them a young player.
“We are working really hard behind the scenes to strengthen the group and we will eventually do that.”

SPOT ON: Cove Rangers midfielder Jamie Masson opens the scoring against Peterhead from a 14th minute penalty.

WELL DONE: Jamie Masson is congratulated by his Cove Rangers team-mates.

EARLY BLOW: Cove Rangers captain Mitch Megginson was forced to go off after just 17 minutes because of a leg injury.

Despite not being at full strength, Cove pushed Peterhead, last season’s League Two champions, all the way in what was a keenly contested cup tie that included Cove defender Harry Milne rattling the home side’s crossbar twice with shots in the second half.
Paul praised his players for their efforts, with left-back Milne coming in for a special mention from his manager.
“The players can be pleased with what they put into the game,” said Paul.
“There were spells in the second half where we had some really good play.
“The two efforts that came off the crossbar just didn’t fall for us and we had a couple of efforts across the face of their goal.
“But given the circumstances, we’ve not had a lot of bodies and were forced make an early change when Mitch had to come off, we did pretty well.
“We weren’t big on numbers but I will tell you what, the players dug in and never gave up, they kept going and there wasn’t a great deal between the two teams.
“There were a lot of pleasing signs there for us.
“I thought Harry Milne was terrific, he was our best player.
“I’m excited by what could happen if we can get him really up to speed because he’s a cracking young player.”

DEEP IN THOUGHT: Cove Rangers assistant manager Gordon Young and manager Paul Hartley discussing their options during the Betfred League Cup clash with Peterhead.

Jimmy Scott will be back for our next Betfred Cup match, at home to Dundee on Wednesday.
Paul is also hopeful some of those who missed the defeat at Peterhead will be available too.
He knows that would enhance our chances of doing well against the Dark Blues, despite the fact they were a Premier League side last term and are full-time.
Paul said: “I don’t want hard luck stories, I don’t want that.
“We are in it to win games and if we are to do that at this level we need to learn that if you switch off you will get punished.
“We have to look to keep improving.
“I’ve always said the Betfred games are part of the build-up for the new league season.
“This was only our fourth game in and most of the guys have been playing in every game.
“We will have another tough one on Wednesday but we are looking forward to it.
“We are the underdogs in every Betfred tie but that’s not a bad thing.
“It will be a bit of a change for the players in terms of the mentality that they’ve been used to.
“In the Highland League they were going into every game expecting to win but in the Betfred they are up against better teams, better opposition.
“It’s up to the players to respond to that challenge.”