COVE COLTS WARNED TO STAY FOCUSSED IF THEY WANT TO SHINE AT IBROX IN LAST EIGHT OF SCOTTSH YOUTH CUP
GEARING UP: The Cove Rangers squad going through their paces at Balmoral Stadium ahead of Friday's Scottish Youth Cup clash with Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox.
COVE Rangers' Colts have been urged not to get overawed by the occasion when they play at Ibrox later this week.
The Cove youngsters face Glasgow Rangers in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Youth Cup in Govan on Friday, 7pm.
It's the first time in the club's history that Cove have featured in the last eight of the competition.
It will also be the first chance many of the Cove players, the majority of whom are still at school, will have had to play at the home ground of one of Scotland's leading clubs.
Cove head of youth development Gary Hake admitted ensuring the youngsters don't get too caught up by the excitement of playing at Ibrox will be crucial if they are to compete in what will be the hardest test they have ever faced.
Gary said: "it's vital that they don't get a bit star struck on the night.
"They have to stay focussed on trying to win what we know is going to be a very difficult game.
"They were able to handle the challenges that were put in front of them to come through the previous rounds, which were all away from home too.
"But this is totally different because they will be playing at one of the most iconic stadiums in Scottish football.
"It will be particularly thrilling for the lads in our squad who are also Rangers supporters.
"I'm honest enough to admit I'm excited as well by the prospect of seeing them play on such a big stage.
"It's okay for them to enjoy all that comes with getting their first chance to be on the
Ibrox pitch when we arrive at the ground on Friday.
"But once the first whistle goes they have to get their minds on the job in hand, which is to do all that they can to ensure it's a night everyone at Cove Rangers will remember for the right reasons."
Hake has assured his players they will be praised by him by the end of the evening, no matter how the clash with the mainly full-time Light Blues side goes.
"There is no pressure on them at all," he said.
"Rangers are expected to win so our lads can relax, go out and enjoy themselves and relish the rare opportunity to test themselves against one of the strongest sides in the country.
"Our goal at the start of the season was to work hard and go as far as we could in this competition.
"The players have already made history for Cove by getting to the last eight, so they have plenty to be proud of.
"The game on Friday is their reward but that doesn't mean we are going there thinking we can't win to keep our run going.
"Ive seen how dedicated these lads are, they put so much into every training session and game and always go out with a winning mentality.
"They also know it's an evening when they will very much be in the shop window.
"If they can shine against a club like Rangers then that could open doors for them to play at an even higher level than they are at the moment.
"We would obviously prefer to keep every one of these lads at Cove but accept we also have a responsibility to develop them to give them the best opportunity possible to get on in the game.
"If one of them managed to really make a name for himself on Friday we would welcome that and cope with whatever might happen as a result."
Gary, who was the Highland League title winning manager of Buckie Thistle before moving to Cove, believes the Ibrox pitch will give his side an even chance of pushing their hosts all the way in the fight to claim a place in the semi-finals.
"They might see it as an advantage to play the tie on a pitch far bigger than most youth players at lower levels are used to," he said.
"But the pitch at Balmoral Stadium is big too, our boys are used to the luxury have space to play and pass the ball.
"Hopefully they will be able to do that on Friday."
COVE RANGERS from: Balint Demus, Conan Kennedy, Daniel Critchard, James Gomes, Scott Kinghorn, Dem Yunus, Reece Wilson, Lewis Youngson, Rhys Thomas, Matthew Tough, Cameron Carnie, Dylan Forsyth, Orin Collin, Arthur Morgan, Dan Middler, Blair McGinigal, Cameron Maxwell, Simon Mitchell.
VERY PROUD: Cove Rangers youth coaching chief Gary Hake.