Cove Rangers announced their entry to the SPFL with an emphatic 5-0 dismantling of last season’s title contenders Edinburgh City.
Both Mitch Megginson and Harry Milne netted braces and Edinburgh had Liam Henderson and Calum Antell sent off in an eventful afternoon at the Balmoral Stadium.
Substitute Jordon Brown bundled home a fifth with two minutes to go, capping a superb afternoon for the league’s newest side.
Many bookmakers had made Cove pre-season favourites for the title, something manager Paul Hartley was quick to dismiss. But a display like this, taking apart a team who were top of League 2 for a significant part of last season, will make others sit up and take notice.
Their 33-year stay in the Highland League was ended in May, when they went up through the pyramid play-offs with a 7-0 demolition of Berwick Rangers.
Jamie Redman returned to the team after missing the entirety of the Betfred Cup, while new loan signing John Robertson was on the bench.
Skipper Megginson had the first sight of goal, as he got free of the grasp of Liam Henderson and stretched out a foot to direct the bouncing ball goalwards but Calum Antell was out quickly to claim.
The SPFL new boys certainly did not lack for confidence. Former Aberdeen winger Jamie Masson saw plenty of the ball early and made hay at full-back Robbie MacIntyre. That created a promising chance for Chris Antoniazzi on 19 minutes, with Masson driving across the penalty area and rolling it back to the Aberdeen loanee, who whistled a shot past the far post.
Megginson did what he does best and what Cove need him to do with regularity. After Antell had parried Scott Ross’ shot, Harry Milne drove the ball back across the six-yard box where Megginson was waiting. While the finish was not the cleanest, it did enough to evade Antell.
Six minutes later and in almost identical circumstances, the captain had his second. This time it was Antoniazzi’s persistence when presented with a shortage of space in the penalty, weaving into space and putting the ball into the goal-mouth. Megginson, at full stretch, delivered the finish again.
The dream half was complete five minutes before the interval. Masson’s free-kick to the back post was well-placed, with Redman glancing it back across goal. Milne made the most of a foray forward, burying his header.
Edinburgh’s day would get worse. Glass made Conrad Balatoni look foolish in the centre circle and skipped clear, only for Liam Henderson to hack him down on the edge of the box. Referee Mike Roncone was on the spot and dished out the red card.
The visitors were falling to pieces and ought to have been four down when Glass won the ball in the middle of the park and Megginson, determined to stay onside, held his run. When he was sent clear only a poor first touch allowed the ball to run away from him and Antell could collect.
But the fourth soon came and it was Milne again, getting forward to tuck away a stray ball after Glass had been bundled to the floor in the box.
Antell became the second Edinburgh player to see red with 12 minutes to go, clattering into Megginson when he tried to control Blair Yule’s pass. Substitute goalkeeper Ryan Adamson was instantly called into action in tipping Masson’s free-kick over.
Adamson had a hand in the fifth, parrying Dan Park’s cross straight at Brown’s head and completing a remarkable day for Cove.