John Sheran last night insisted Cove Rangers were only halfway towards the SPFL play-off final despite a crushing 4-0 triumph over Lowland League champions Spartans.
A Paul McManus double and further strikes from Mitch Megginson and Eric Watson all but killed the tie, but Sheran was keen to snuff out any hint of complacency.
The Cove manager, preparing for life at the club’s new £4 million Balmoral Stadium next season, said: “We’re not getting too carried away because it is only half-time. We’ve still got a hard place to go. They have a good record there, Spartans, so we have to make sure we go and perform to the same levels as today.”
After a nervy start, Cove began to find their flow and only a spectacular point-blank reaction save from Spartans keeper Blair Carswell denied Megginson a 22nd-minute opener.
But the Cove breakthrough did come three minutes before the interval. From Jamie Masson’s driven cross, Megginson reacted sharply to fire in a close-range finish for a remarkable 50th goal of the season.
Cove could hardly have hoped for a better start to the second half.With four minutes of the second half played, Adam Corbett’s trip felled Harry Milne in the penalty area and there were no Spartans’ protests as referee David Munro pointed to the spot. Paul McManus stepped up to tuck away the spot-kick with ease. Three minutes later, Cove went further ahead when a cheeky Jonny Smith back-heel cross from just inside the box found Eric Watson nodding in the third at the far post.
Megginson’s cross from the right set up McManus for his second of the day, again from close-in at the back post after 67 minutes.
Spartans manager Dougie Samuel admitted: “We had high expectations coming here. We’re a team used to winning.
“But I’ve no problem admitting we got beaten by a better team on the day. I’d say 4-0 is a lead John Sheran wouldn’t expect to lose.”