Cove Rangers have everything in place off the field for moving up from the Highland League to the SPFL next season and if they had shown a bit more composure against Cowdenbeath they would have taken a significant step towards achieving that on the park as well.
Aberdeen have already agreed to provide the opposition for the official July opening of their new custom-built stadium on the south side of the city but the decisive leg of this pyramid play-off leaves it far from certain which level of the game they will be playing when the serious action resumes.
John Sheran’s side squandered at least half a dozen chances to take a lead to Central Park next Saturday, where the kick-off time has been brought forward to 2pm as the potential for extra time can’t be allowed to conflict with the Stock Car racing at that most eccentric of venues.
Of course, the Blue Brazil survived in similar circumstances 12 months ago by defeating East Kilbride on penalty kicks and, given their dearth of scoring opportunities at Harlaw Park yesterday, extending their stay in senior football to 114 years might depend on a repeat.
Cowdenbeath manager Gary Bollan said afterwards that he hoped that wouldn’t be necessary but admits they will practise them just in case, although he expects a lot more from his players than they produced, going forward anyway.
“We weren’t at our best today, we are miles better than we showed,” was his honest assessment.
“It’s going to be the same at Central Park next week and it’ll be a real battle but we got the clean sheet we were looking for.”
That was largely down to some poor finishing by Paul McManus in the first half and the form of Cowdenbeath’s veteran goalkeeper David McGurn throughout, climaxed on the hour mark by an amazing change of direction to deny Jamie Masson a certain goal.
McGurn certainly earned his bit of good fortune ten minutes from time when Connor Scully’s shot smacked back off the post and hit the prostrate goalkeeper on the back of the head before spinning wide of the goal.
Cove Rangers manager John Sheran could hardly credit how a team that scored 125 goals in the Highland League this season failed to get one, especially since his striker Mitch Megginson’s tally of 50 is more than double the total which the entire Cowenbeath team have contributed so far.
However, he is convinced their opponents can’t be as fortunate in the return and said: ”We created quite a few opportunities but David McGurn made some good saves and things just didn’t go in for us. But we can look forward to next week’s second leg and will be ready to go again.”