PARK PRAISED FOR PLAYING KEY ROLE IN COVE’S TACTICAL TRIUMPH OVER FORMARTINE IN CUP FINAL
KEY MAN: Cove Rangers midfielder Daniel Park, right, challenges Formartine defender Stuart Anderson in the Highland League Cup final.
DANIEL Park has been applauded for being the unsung hero as Cove Rangers beat Formartine United 2-0 to lift the Highland League Cup.
Midfielder Daniel was a key component in the tactical switch made by Cove that ensured they came out on top in the final, at Harlaw Park, Inverurie.
Cove went with a 4-4-2 formation - with Daniel pushed up front alongside top scorer Mitch Megginson to apply extra pressure on Formartine centre-backs Craig McKeown and Stuart Anderson.
Cove manager John Sheran said: “Daniel played a different sort of role and did what was asked of him magnificently.
“Craig McKeown is a player we have a lot of respect for and he is normally a dominant figure for Formartine, he certainly was the last time we played them at Pitmedden.
“But Daniel stopped that happening in the cup final, he was right in his face and never gave Craig a chance to do what he normally does to inspire his side.
“It really unsettled Craig, it’s the sort of work that might go unnoticed by most people at the game but I can assure Daniel we really appreciated the effort he put in to make sure we were able to go on and win the final.”
The tactical switch also meant a surprise recall for midfielder Sam Burnett, who had only made one previous start this season because he had been out for 11 months recovering from a knee injury.
Sam’s inclusion proved significant because he scored the opening goal and it was a shot from him that led to Mitch netting the second, just before half-time.
Cove boss John said: “We never felt it was a gamble because everyone knows how talented Sam is.
“We needed someone who is able to break forward from the middle of the park, as Daniel would normally do, and make good use of the ball.
“We never expected Sam to last the whole game, which is why we took him off after an hour, his legs were gone.
“But he can be pleased with the contribution he made.
“His goal was pretty impressive. Sam never panics when he is in those sort of situations so it was no surprise to see him put the ball away.
“The entire team did their bit, though.
“What they showed us in the final is that, when they really need to, they can roll up their sleeves to fight and battle their corner.
“And I can assure you that was a real battle.
“We tried to play football when we felt it was on, but the majority of the time it was about standing up to the strong, physical, challenge you always face in games against Formartine.
“The boys had worked hard to get to that final and showed they were more than happy to put in another hard shift to get the job done.
“It was also great to get our captain Eric Watson on to the park for the last five minutes.
“Like a lot of others in our squad, Eric would have liked to have played more than he has over the last while.
“But he’s made sure he’s ready when needed, which was why we were so eager to get Eric on at some stage.
“He’s been a fantastic servant to the club and if this season does prove to be his last one then Eric is going to go out in style.
“All in all, the day couldn’t have gone much better for us.”
Cove’s next target is to clinch the Breedon Highland League title.
They need four points from their remaining three games, with a trip to Keith on Wednesday night first on the agenda.
John said: “We enjoyed our celebrations on Saturday night but our minds are already back on what needs to be done in the league.
“We will probably freshen things up a little because it was a very taxing final but that’s why I’m so grateful that we have such a good squad.
“They have all made significant contributions at some stage and I’m hoping that will be the case again in the remaining three league games.”
PRIZE GUYS: The Cove Rangers management team celebrate with the Highland League Cup, from left, first team coach Roy McBain, co-managers John Sheran and Graeme Mathieson, goalkeeping coach Keith Paterson and youth coach Gary Hake.