Cove Rangers beat Brora Rangers FC 1-0 at Allan Park on Sunday to reach the third round of the Scottish FA Youth Cup. A spectacular long range volley from midfielder Craig Mackie in the first half was enough to separate the sides and ensure Brora’s 340 mile roundtrip was fruitless.
Brora Rangers were described as pre-match ‘red hot favourites’ by Cove Rangers secretary Ian Armstrong but the hosts fully deserved their victory and progression to the next round. Cove Rangers lined up in a 4-3-3 formation and their three midfielders won the vital midfield battle against Brora’s two. After the match, Cove manager, Scott Bridgwater, revealed that their plan had worked perfectly.
He said: “The system that we played really helped us, I think the three boys that we had in the middle of the park really worked hard for the team.
“We had someone watch Brora Rangers earlier in the week and we managed to kind of work out how they would play.
“We worked on our shape and our pressing in training and it worked really well on this park. But that’s not to say we wouldn’t play like that again in the next round, it would depend on who it’s against and their style of play and system.
“I think the system that we put in place really worked well today.”
Cove Rangers started brightly and put pressure on their opponents from the very first whistle, but they were nearly caught on the counter attack within two minutes. Good hold-up play by striker Colin Maclean allowed Michael Maclean to set-up the on-running Jack Mackay who dragged the ball wide of goal from the right of the penalty box.
The hosts then created their first chance of the match after nine minutes but the impressive Harry Milne could only direct his header off target from Liam Burnett’s in-swinging free kick.
Cove’s Devin Kennedy-Colbert worked tirelessly throughout the match as their lone striker and he nearly had a goal to show for that after 21 minutes. He took the ball from the deepest defender with a sliding tackle and was quickly back up to his feet but his shot from the edge of the penalty area went straight into the hands of goalkeeper John Allan.
Brora Rangers looked most threatening when they were playing balls inside the two opposing full backs and that tactic again proved profitable for them on 26 minutes. Winger Kyle Sutherland broke inside and onto a through ball but he pulled his shot two yards wide of the far post.
As half time approached you got the feeling that it would either take something special, or something stupid to separate these two sides. And it was the former which broke the deadlock after 41 minutes. The ball was cleared from the penalty area and Craig Mackie cushioned the ball with his instep, before nonchalantly volleying the ball over the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net from 25 yards. He celebrated that goal like he does it every week.