YOU WERE SIMPLY FAN-TASTIC SAYS COVE BOSS GRAEME AFTER RECORD TURN OUT TO SEE PLAY-OFF FINAL
TAKE TWO: Mitch Megginson celebrates scoring Cove’s second goal against Berwick with some of the fans who were packed into Balmoral Stadium.
COVE Rangers co-manager Graeme Mathieson has thanked the people of Aberdeen for turning out in force to help them beat Berwick Rangers 4-0 in the first leg of their SPFL Pyramid Play-off final.
Cove chairman Keith Moorhouse had issued a rallying for fans to pack out Balmoral Stadium for their showdown with their League Two opponents.
And they did just that with the huge turnout of 1,955, the biggest yet for a Cove game at their new home
The attendance was also larger than that at the Premiership clash between Livingston and Dundee (1,374) and the League One play off semis, Clyde v Edinburgh City (1,204) and Stenhousemuir v Annan (794).
“The backing we received was simply amazing,” said Cove boss Graeme.
“I want to thank every single person who made the effort to come along.
“The players got a huge boost when they walked out and saw just how big the crowd was.
“The atmosphere they created also inspired them to deliver one of our best performances of the season.”
Sam Burnett, Mitch Megginson, Jordon Brown and Jamie Masson scored the goals that mean it’s advantage Cove going into the second leg at Shielfield Park next Saturday.
But Graeme was quick to remind his players at the full time whistle that they still have a huge challenge ahead if they want to be promoted up to League Two.
He used the comebacks made by Liverpool and Spurs in the European Champions League semis as prime examples of how first leg deficits can be overcome if the team that is ahead fails to show their opponents enough respect.
He said: “The first thing I said to them when they came into the dressing room was ‘remember lads, it’s only half time.’
“We’ve given ourselves a great chance but there’s never been a better week than the last one for reminders of what can happen in football if teams don’t do their jobs properly.
“No-one gave Liverpool or Spurs any chance of overturning big scorelines but they did so we have to be very careful.
“You can be sure Berwick will be coming out thinking ‘we have nothing to lose so let’s take the game at them and give it our best shot.’
“If they were to get an early goal it could give them momentum so that’s something we will have to guard against.
“It will be about managing the game to give ourselves the best opportunity of getting the result we all want.
“Berwick are a big, physical, side so we are going to have to be ready for another 90 minutes of battling for every ball and sheer hard graft.
“The players have also been warned they will need to be disciplined and stay focussed from the first whistle to the last.
“We will prepare this week as if we are down 1-0 rather 4-0 up because we respect Berwick and how desperate they will be to stay in League Two.”
Graeme praised the whole team for their efforts but also applauded centre-backs Scott Ross and Ryan Strachan for the way they coped with the power of Berwick front man Daryl Healy.
He said: “We had a few problems with him early on but I thought Scott and Ryan were brilliant after that.
“It was no surprise because they are two fantastic centre backs.
“It’s a joy watching them work at times.
“If one goes to win a header the other always drops off waiting to pick up the pieces.
“They also read the game well and speak all of the time, it’s just how it should be with the really top defenders.”
LOOKING ON: John Sheran watching Cove Rangers beat Berwick Rangers (image courtesy of Derek Ironside of Newsline, Scotland).
The Cove players received a pre-match boost when Graeme’s fellow co-manager John Sheran spent some time with them in what was the first match he has attended since suffering a heart attack.
Graeme said: “It was great seeing John.
“I obviously knew he was coming, we spoke before the game and have kept in constant contact since he became unwell.
“It gave all of us a massive lift.
“It also meant a lot when I was able to look up at where John was sitting in the stand just before kick off and got a wave from him.
“It was the same when we came in at the end and John was waiting in the dressing room to congratulate the players.
“It was just another example of the unity at the club that has helped us get into the position that we are in at the moment and that’s something John has worked hard to create since coming back
“We are like one huge family really who work for each other and would do anything for each other.
“That will be important next Saturday because, as John also said, there is still work to be done if we want Cove to go where the club has never been before.”
SUPER SAM: Midfield ace Sam Burnett opens the scoring against Berwick Rangers.
HEAD BOY: Mitch Megginson nods home to make it 2-0.
BROWNY POINTS: Jordon Brown forces home the third for Cove.
MASSON MAGIC: Jamie Masson watching his shot beat the Berwick keeper to make it 4-0.