Cove Rangers seal League 2 place with comfortable 3-0 victory over Berwick Rangers

Cove Rangers will be a League 2 side next season after a 3-0 win over Berwick Rangers sealed their promotion to the SPFL.

Jamie Masson’s deflected shot gave Cove a first-half lead at Shielfield Park and when the home side lost Ross Brown – sent off for a last-man challenge – just before the interval, the die was cast in the second leg of this pyramid play-off.

Jason Brown got the second two minutes after the break and Cove were in cruise control, with substitute Paul McManus capping a memorable afternoon for the Highland League champions with the third to put Cove into the Scottish leagues for the first time.

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There was even a late cameo for long-serving club captain Eric Watson – greeted by huge cheers from the 400-plus travelling support – with the 37-year-old departing on a high after 12 years with the club.

Co-manager John Sheran, who had been absent from the dugout since April 21 after suffering a heart attack, travelled to watch his team seal their place in League 2 with a 7-0 aggregate triumph.

Co-manager John Sheran (right) attends the game with Cove chairman Keith Woodhouse.

For Berwick, it is now the Lowland League for them where they will join East Stirlingshire, the only other side to drop out of League 2 since the introduction of the play-off in 2015.

Cove made one change from the 4-0 first-leg win, with Brown replacing Sam Burnett who dropped to the bench.

Already carrying that significant advantage from last week’s game, Cove showed little sign of resting on their laurels. Harry Milne’s teasing left-wing cross was met in the six-yard box by Mitch Megginson, who diverted the ball on to the post and clattered goalkeeper Ryan Goodfellow in the process.

Berwick were fighting to preserve 64 years of Scottish league history at Shielfield Park and with Cameron Blues had two close-range shots blocked, by Darryn Kelly and then Ryan Strachan, they were offering some resistance.

However, the manner of the Cove opener hinted it may not be their day. Masson cut inside on his right foot and saw his shot deflected beyond Goodfellow. Declan O’Kane felt he hacked the ball off the line but referee John McKendrick awarded the goal.

It took the sting out of what little edge there was in the tie, as Berwick looked short on answers to start the long road back.

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Daniel Park had the chance to double the advantage on 30 minutes when Masson’s raking ball picked him out, but his shot went skidding past the far post.

Jamie Masson scored Cove’s opener.

Brown was well picked out by Harry Milne five minutes later and attempted to dink it over Goodfellow, without success.

The hosts’ afternoon was compounded with skipper Ross Brown dismissed on the stroke of half-time, penalised for pulling back Megginson when he was through on Goodfellow.

Two weeks after his brother Jason achieved promotion from League 2 with Peterhead, Brown scored the goal that effectively put them there two minutes into the second half.

Megginson’s clever ball found Masson on the left side of the area and he picked out Brown at the back post to slide in.

Cove’s Jordon Brown celebrates his goal to make it 2-0.

Megginson was chasing his elusive 50th goal of the season but one attempt on the turn went wide, while the ever-impressive Masson curled another inches past the far post.

McManus put the icing on the cake with 15 minutes to go when Burnett played him through, as he jabbed into the bottom corner to seal an emphatic triumph.