HISTORY IS MADE AS MAGNIFICENT COVE BEAT BERWICK TO SECURE PROMOTION INTO SPFL
Berwick Rangers 0 Cove Rangers 3
(Cove win 7-0 on aggregate).
HAPPY ‘Cove Glory in Berwick Day!’
Yes, on this afternoon 12 months ago a bumper Cove travelling army made the long trek to Shielfield Park to our historic 3-0 victory over Berwick Rangers in the second leg of our SPFL Pyramid Play-off final.
To mark the anniversary of that unforgettable day we have published the full match report and reactions from the players, coaching staff and others who helped us become the first Highland League side to earn promotion via the play-offs.
SPFL Pyramid Play-off final, second leg
Saturday May 18, 2019
At Shielfield Park.
SUPER Cove Rangers are up into League Two for next season after a storming victory over Berwick Rangers in the second leg of their SPFL Pyramid Play-off final.
Leading 4-0 from the first leg there was never any real danger of Cove coming unstuck at Shielfield Park, especially with a noisy army of around 400 fans cheering them on from start to finish.
Jamie Masson, the man of the match by a country mile, ended any hope of a miracle comeback when he gave Cove an early lead.
Berwick’s misery deepened when their skipper Ross Brown was sent off in the last minute of the first half.
When Jordon Brown netted the second in the 47th minute it meant the party could start early for the Cove fans, who were as brilliant as their team.
Cove always looked a league apart from their hosts and deserved to be the ones going up after dominating the game from the first whistle to the last.
The Cove fans had hardly settled into their seats when MASSON opened the scoring after only eight minutes.
The midfielder cut inside from the left wing then hit a shot that took a wicked deflection off a Berwick defender.
Home defender Declan O’Kane made a desperate attempt to boot the ball clear as it dropped in to their goal but near side ref’s assistant Dan McFarlane immediately signalled that it had already crossed the line.
Berwick’s Lewis Barr was booked for protesting about the decision but the goal stood.
Cove threatened again in the 15th minute when Masson picked out Scott Ross with a free kick from the left but the defender’s 12 yard header was held by home keeper Ryan Goodfellow.
Berwick’s only chance of the half was a Grant Rose. volley that was easily held by Cove keeper Stuart McKenzie.
Cove followed that with Masson finding Daniel Park with an excellent cross field pass but the midfielder could then only steer his low shot wide of the target.
Milne started the next attack with a pass to Jordon Brown and his 20 yard shot was held by Goodfellow.
Berwick’s chances of saving themselves were totally dead when defender Brown was rightly red carded in the 44th minute.
He could have no complaints after a blatant foul on Megginson, just as the striker was about to pull the trigger from just outside the area after a brilliant passing move by Cove.
Megginson battered the resulting free-kick against the Berwick defensive wall but the Cove fans didn’t seem to care as they gave their heroes a rousing ovation when they made their way inside at the interval.
Cove went further ahead two minutes after the restart.
Megginson laid the ball off perfectly to Masson and his low cross from the left was poked over the line by BROWN.
Goodfellow then had to dive full length to save Connor Scully’s volley as Cove underlined their superiority.
Megginson also went close with a shot on the turn from 15 yards that went inches wide.
Masson was unlucky again with a curling shot from the edge of the area that only just went wide of Goofellow’s left post.
Cove capped a wonderful day’s work by making it 3-0 in the 75th minute.
Sam Burnett slipped the ball through to fellow Cove sub Paul MCMANUS and he calmly battered it into the net from close range.
The Cove fans had been chanting for veteran skipper Eric Watson to get on for what would be his last appearance for the club.
And they were rewarded when the 37–year-old replaced Milne with six minutes to go.
Watson almost made it a fairytale finale with a close range header that went just wide of the target.
Watson then saw another header pushed clear by Goodfellow as the one way traffic continued.
There were amazing scenes at the final whistle as Cove and their fans celebrated becoming the first Highland League side to earn promotion via the Pyramid System.
BERWICK RANGERS: Goodfellow, O’Kane, Hume, See, Cook, Barr, McIIduff, Rose (Adamson 58), Ogilvie (Forbes 46), Brown, Blues (Aloulou 76)
Subs: Orru, Brennan.
COVE RANGERS: McKenzie, Kelly, H Milne (Watson 84) Scully, Ross, Strachan, Yule, Masson, Megginson (McManus 61); Brown (Burnett 65), Park.
Subs: Redford, MacRae, MacLeod, McCafferty.
Referee: John McKendrick
COVE Rangers midfielder Connor Scully has dedicated their historic victory over Berwick Rangers to his beloved grandmother Bunty Simpson, who passed away a few days before the sides met in the second leg of their SPFL Pyramid Play-off final.
“It’s been an emotional week for me so that was definitely for her,” said Connor.
“It was hard going out to play after what happened but I have a great family who fully supported me and said it’s what my grandma would have wanted.
“We were all there by her side when she passed away, which made it a little easier to deal with.
“She was simply a great woman who always followed my football career, I used to have to give her full match reports after every game.
“Speaking to my family before the Berwick game, we were all saying how she would be looking down on me, so it was pleasing to get such an important win.”
Connor underlined why he was voted Cove’s players’ player of the year as they beat Berwick 3-0 to secure a 7-0 aggregate victory to earn promotion up into League Two from the start of next season.
He controlled the midfield throughout the 90 minutes, as he had done in the majority of Cove’s matches during a campaign that also saw them win the Breedon Highland League, Highland League Cup and Aberdeenshire Cup.
“It’s been a good year for me football wise and for other things too,” he said.
“Getting player of the year from the other guys meant a lot.
“We also won the three trophies then capped it all by making a wee bit of history by earning promotion.
“It’s also been the year when I became a father and got engaged, so there’s a lot of good things to remember as well.”
There had been talk of Berwick maybe making a miracle comeback after losing the fist leg of the play-off final at Balmoral Stadium 4-0, but Connor was convinced that was never going to happen.
“The night before the game we all spoke about that and how determined we were to get the job done,” he said.
“I’ve never been in a team as focussed as this one is.
“You look at the 4-0 score line and some sides would have been thinking it was all over and maybe get careless, but not us.
“We were desperate to win the second leg too and we are delighted we did that playing some very good football.
“We bossed Berwick from start to finish and there is no doubt we deserved to go up.”
Connor believes co-manager Graeme Mathieson deserves a lot of credit, especially when he had to take the helm on his own while fellow co-manager John Sheran was recovering from a heart attack.
Connor said: “I’ve been working with Graeme since I joined the club as a 16 year old and he was my youth coach, so it came as no surprise.
“He has done a brilliant job over the last few weeks so it was pleasing to reward him and John by securing promotion.
“It’s also extra special because I’m a Cove boy.
“It’s amazing to think there will soon be league football getting played up in our part of Aberdeen.
“I’m looking forward to a wee break now because it’s been a long, tough, season.
“I’m off to Ibeza with my family and will enjoy that but I will also be looking after myself because I want to come back fighting fit and ready to go in what is going to be an exciting new challenge for all of us at Cove.”
“Seeing Cove Rangers beat Berwick Rangers in the second leg of the play-off final was one of the proudest days of my life.
“From the day I became involved with the club the aspiration had always been to eventually see us playing at the highest level possible.
“It’s taken a lot of years and the efforts of many, many, people but it has finally happened, which is simply fantastic.
“It’s in the top three of all that I’ve achieved in football.
“The no.1 has to be getting given the honour of being the match delegate for the 2019 European Champions Cup final in Madrid.
“Cove gaining promotion comes second to that, ahead of being the President of the SFA, that’s how much it means to me.
“It was even more special because Cove did it in style, by winning all four play-off games 12-1 on aggregate.
“That underlined just how special a team they are and I can’t wait to see how they do in League Two next season.”
ALAN McRAE, honorary president, Cove Rangers FC
NOW THE PROMOTION DREAM HAS COME TRUE WE MUST SET OUR SIGHTS ON CLIMBING EVEN HIGHER, SAYS COVE CHAIRMAN KEITH
Gaining promotion to the SPFL really is what dreams are made of.
It had been my dream for a long time, longer than I care to remember.
It’s brilliant that it has finally come true.
I’m so proud and also pleased for everyone who has been involved in our fantastic journey from the amateur leagues all the way up to League Two.
Special mention must go to our honorary president, Alan McRae, who was the man who started us on that road.
The rest of us who followed have simply built on the foundations laid by Alan and I’m sure he will be pleased that the stand at Balmoral Stadium that now bears his name will witness SPFL football in the coming season.
There are so many others, some still at the club and others who have since left, who must share in our achievement too.
I’ve been involved at Cove for 22 years now and saw many people willingly putting in a lot of time and effort to help us develop.
Everything they did, no matter how big or small, played a part in taking us to that amazing, unforgettable, day down at Berwick.
They might not feel they have been part of the journey, but I can assure you they have.
Losing the play-off final to Cowdenbeath the previous year was a huge motivating factor.
There is an old saying along the lines of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
What happened to us at Central Park definitely gave us added strength and a renewed determination.
We obviously had to lick our wounds and it took a few weeks to pick ourselves up.
But once we had got through that there was a belief that we could make the play-offs again and then get the job done.
The management and players deserve enormous credit for the way they responded.
Winning the Highland League while losing just one match was an amazing achievement.
To also claim the Highland League Cup and Aberdeenshire Cup was a testament to their professionalism and commitment to Cove.
To then back that up by blowing away East Kilbride and Berwick Rangers was simply stunning.
They set even higher standards than they did the season before and maintained them all they way through until the end of the play-offs.
I have to single out co-manager John Sheran for extra praise.
We brought him back to the club for a second time because he is a born leader.
He’s also a great guy who has been a huge influence on everyone at the club, not just those he deals with in the home dressing room.
It’s why we were all so upset when John suffered a heart attack the day after we received the Highland League trophy.
It was a huge concern knowing John wouldn’t be able to be in the dugout for any of the play-off games.
Graeme Mathieson, his fellow co-manager, and first team coach Roy McBain did a magnificent job to ensure that was never a problem but then again they are men chosen by John, so it was hardly a surprise.
They are the team behind the team, we really couldn’t be in better hands.
Thankfully, John is now well on the mend and was fit enough to join in the celebrations after the game at Berwick. He deserved that.
I would like to say a personal thank you to all of the Cove fans for the backing we received through the season and in all four play off games.
I will remember the scenes as the fans celebrated with the players at Berwick for the rest of my life.
Hopefully you will continue to turn out in big numbers as we start out on our next great adventure.
Promotion means we now have to say farewell to the Highland League and I mean it when I say we do so with a great deal of sadness.
We have made a lot of friends during our years in the league and hopefully they will remain so.
It’s a great league full of great people and it’s been brilliant for Cove.
But our aspirations were always to kick on and we are pleased to have done that.
My message to the clubs we leave behind would be ‘come and join us.’
There are others in the Highland League who are more than capable of following in our footsteps.
It would be brilliant if we could renew old rivalries up in the SPFL in the years to come.
That will only happen, of course, if we manage to stay there.
We accept that is going to be a huge challenge but it’s one that also excites us.
We’ve had to work hard to earn the right to play in League Two and it’s something we won’t give up again without a fight.
The work to strengthen the squad even further has already begun.
We are an ambitious club with a brilliant plan that we feel will help us succeed.
It’s great to be in League Two but that’s not where we plan to stay.
In time, we want to make our mark in the SPFL, as Ross County, Inverness Caley Thistle, Peterhead and Elgin City - whose roots are also in the Highland League- have.
We want to move up the leagues as quickly as we can and show we are worthy additions to the SPFL.
I’m happy to admit my dream now is to eventually see Cove Rangers playing at Championship level.
It won’t happen right away, we have to be realistic, but it’s important everyone with an interest in Cove is aware of what we hope to accomplish.
It has taken us 97 years to get to where we are right now... who knows where we will be by the time our centenary comes around.
KEITH MOORHOUSE , chairman Cove Rangers Football Club
“That was for the fans who backed us throughput the play-offs, they were simply amazing.
“You could see how much it meant to them by the scenes after the final whistle at Berwick.
“They played a big part in that win, they were singing the whole time and really inspired us to play as well as we did.
“It was the same in the first leg at Balmoral, there was no way we were ever going to let them down after they way they rallied to our cause.”
“Playing at SPFL level has always been one of my ambitions.
“I’m really grateful to the management for giving me a new contract so that I have a chance of finally doing that.
“I accept that the competition for places will be tougher than it has ever been during my time with Cove Rangers but that’s a challenge I’m happy to take on.”
“I’ve won leagues before but this tops anything I’ve done in my career.
“When I joined the club John Sheran told me the intention was to eventually reach the SPFL.
“It’s taken some time, but it’s great that we have finally got there.”
“We were spurred on by what happened to us at Cowdenbeath the year before.
“The bus back up from there was the worst experience of my life.
“The one back from Berwick was the best ever, the players have done the club proud.”
DUNCAN LITTLE, club secretary
“When we lost at Cowdenbeath the consensus of opinion in the squad was ‘we won’t fail again if we get another chance.’
“From the first day of the season, promotion was what we were going for.
“Doing it in such style made it even more special.
“We played our best football of the campaign in the four play-off games, which was pretty amazing when you consider our season had started way back in July.
“That’s because every one of us were focussed on getting the job done.
“Nobody was going to deny us the chance to finally take Cove to where they deserve to be.”
“Winning promotion shows I made the right call when I quit Peterhead for Cove.
“I was offered a deal, so it was a hard decision.
“But I wanted to be part of something exciting and historic with Cove.
“Capping winning a treble by making it up into the SPFL made it a real dream season.
“But we aren’t just content with going up, we want to make our mark in League Two.
“We are more than good enough to do that, we can’t wait to get going again.”
THAT WAS SIMPLY THE BEST SAY COVE BOSSES JOHN AND GRAEME AFTER HISTORIC PLAY OFF VICTORY
COVE Rangers co-managers John Sheran and Graeme Mathieson are in dreamland today after leading the club to promotion into the SPFL.
Goals from Jamie Masson, Jordon Brown and Paul McManus gave Cove a 3-0 victory over Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park in the second leg of their SPFL Pyramid Play-off final and an emphatic 7-0 win on aggregate.
It means Cove have become the first Highland League side to earn promotion via the play-offs and they will be playing in League Two next season.
John, who was at the match despite having suffered a heart attack just four weeks ago today, said: “This has to be the top achievement of my football career.
“And I’m even more proud because the players did it in style, making history by playing some top quality football over all four matches in the play-offs (Cove also beat Lowland League champions East Kilbride in the semis).”
John praised Graeme, first team coach Roy McBain and the rest of the club’s back room staff for the way they led the team during his enforced absence.
“They have all been absolutely brilliant,” he said.
“Everyone has muscled in and done a bit extra to ensure what happened to me didn’t take the focus off the important job that had to be done.
“Graeme and Roy deserve particular praise, they kept calm and did an amazing job to motivate the players all the way through the play-offs.”
Graeme, who is now into his 11th year as a coach with Cove, said: “We scored 11 goals and conceded only one in the four play-off games, which says it all really on how well the team managed those.
“We asked them to use the four games to show just how good a side they are and they did that.
“Their quality was there for all to see.
“The challenge for them now is to see if they can do that at a higher level too, and I think they can.
“We will look to strengthen, as you always have to, but we are fortunate to have a strong nucleus of players who have already played at League Two level or higher.”
Graeme is delighted John was able to be there to witness their glory day.
He said: “It was unbelievable to see him out there jumping about for joy after all that he’s been through.
“We see ourselves as a team, John, myself, Roy and everybody else who works behind the scenes.
“We really missed John because he’s such a huge figure at the club.”
Both men paid tribute to skipper Eric Watson, who came on for the last few minutes in what was his farewell appearance after 12 trophy laden years with Cove.
Cove chairman Keith Moorhouse presented the 37-year-old defender with a special trophy to thank Eric for his many years of loyal service.
John, who signed Eric during his first spell as Cove manager, said: “Eric has made a huge contribution to all of the success enjoyed by the club over those 12 years.
“There is no doubt he is the best signing I ever made for Cove so playing in the match that clinched promotion was a fitting send off for a man who has been a great help to me.”
Graeme added: “Eric is an absolute legend.
“You will never meet a nicer guy off the pitch but put him in a Cove shirt and he becomes a warrior who would run through brick walls for you.
“Eric is a winner too, I doubt if anyone will ever beat his record haul of trophy successes.
“He bowed out in style and it was so typical of Eric that he almost scored twice during the time he was on at Berwick.
“I wish him well in the next stage of his career and any club that gets Eric will find there is no better leader to have out there when the going gets tough.”