Cove Rangers defender Harry Milne expects Formartine to be one of their biggest challengers to retaining the Highland League title.
The two sides met in an entertaining Aberdeenshire Cup quarter-final on Wednesday, with Cove’s Eric Watson netting an extra-time winner to knock out the competition holders.
Formartine finished 11 points behind Cove in second last season and both are part of a four-way tie at the top of the table five games into the new campaign, also including Brora Rangers and Fraserburgh.
The league champions are at home to in-form Turriff United tomorrow, who have only lost one of their opening five games. While Milne expects a difficult challenge from Turriff, he also reckons Paul Lawson’s side will try keep pace with them at the top of the table.
Milne said: “We always say at the start of the season we expect them to be up there. They have two experienced guys in (Paul) Lawson and (Russell) Anderson at the helm and they’re an organised team. A lot of teams will find it difficult against them.
“But we’ll play our own game – we haven’t conceded yet. We’ll be rested up and fresh for Saturday, we’ve got a good squad. Turriff have started the season well but we’ll be happy just to get the win.
“It was probably our biggest workout this season. We knew it was going to be difficult and I thought we had the majority of the ball, without doing much with it. We knew the breakthrough would come and felt we were more likely than them.
“It went to extra-time and both teams were out on their feet. Everyone stuck together in a feisty game and came through it. They beat us in the final last year, so it’s extra nice to knock them out this year. We’re happy to get through it and arguably, it’s the biggest test we should face in the competition.”
Their win on Wednesday night ensured a semi-final tie against Deveronvale on September 12.