WE COULDN’T BE IN ANY BETTER SHAPE GOING INTO PLAY-OFF FINAL, CLAIMS COVE DEFENDER DARRYN
FIGHTING FIT: Cove Rangers defender Darryn Kelly.
COVE Rangers defender Darryn Kelly says they are fit and raring to go as they prepare to face Berwick Rangers in the SPFL Pyramid Play-off final.
The first leg is at Balmoral Stadium tomorrow, with the return at Berwick’s Shielfield Park seven days later.
“We have two huge matches ahead of us’ “ said Darryn, who recently penned a new three year deal with the Cove.
“Everyone knows we have been here before (Cove lost 3-2 on aggregate to Cowdenbeath in last season’s final) hopefully we can get over the final hurdle on this occasion.
“I feel we are better equipped to do that than we were a year ago.
“The amount of players we have available for tomorrow’s game is the biggest bonus.
“We were pretty much down to the bare bones when we played Cowdenbeath because we had so many injuries.
“If you were to ask any of the lads in our dressing room now though they would say they feel really fit and raring to go, which isn’t always the case at this stage of what has been a long and pretty tough campaign.
“That was underlined by the way we managed to beat East Kilbride in the semi-final, I felt we ran over the top of them.
“We accept it’s still a huge challenge facing a side who have a long and proud history of playing in the Scottish League.
“But we are confident because we know we are in such good shape - and have proved we are pretty good team ourselves.”
Darryn praised club physiotherapist Jenni Butler, who joined the club last summer, for the part she has played in ensuring co-manager Graeme Mathieson and coach Roy McBain have an almost full squad to choose from.
The only absentee will be striker Jimmy Scott, who is serving a two game suspension.
“Jenni arriving has been a massive boost for the club.” said Darren.
“It has meant when anyone has been injured they were able to come into Balmoral and get top quality treatment from Jenni.
“You are still in and around the rest of the squad instead of what happened in the past, when you might have had to miss training and go somewhere else for treatment.
“Jenni is also excellent at her job, she deserves a lot of credit for the fact we have almost everyone fighting to get a game tomorrow.”
This will be Darryn’s second crack at trying to get the better of League Two Berwick.
He faced them in the third round of the Scottish Cup in November 2013. when he was playing for Aberdeen Junior side Culter.
Culter almost pulled off what would have been a massive shock when the sides drew 1-1 at Crombie Park, but Berwick won the replay at their place 3-1.
Darryn, who was with Montrose as a youngster before deciding to step back down to the Junior grades with Culter, said: “We were really unlucky not to win that first match.
“Holding then to a draw was still a great result for Culter though, unfortunately they were just too strong for us in the replay.
“You could see they didn’t fancy playing at Crombie Park and I imagine the current Berwick team won’t be overly keen on the prospect of facing us at Balmoral either.
“They are travelling with huge pressure on their shoulders because they are battling to survive and they will know our record at home this season has been exceptional.
“Hopefully that will still be the case after Saturday.”
BIG DAY: the match programme and an action shot from Culter v Berwick Rangers in the Scottish Cup in 2013.
Having played at SPFL level before with Montrose, Darryn is understandably excited by the prospect of doing that again with Cove, whom he joined from Culter in 2014.
“When I went to Culter I had sort of lost any ambitions I had to play at Scottish League level,” he said.
“I had already done it at a very young age, I was still a spotty faced boy then, and was more interested in just getting the opportunity to play at a decent level on a regular basis.
“But that burning ambition has been rekindled since I signed for Cove, it was one of the main reasons why I jumped at that opportunity.
“From the day I arrived I was aware of just how ambitious everyone at Cove is and how much it would mean to them to gain promotion.
“We now have facilities that would be welcomed by any of the clubs already in the SPFL.
“We are ready to be a League Two side ... but we know that isn’t going to be handed to us.
“It’s something that we are gong to have to go and earn in these next two games.”