Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley hopes to sign off on a memorable 2019 for his team by ensuring the Highland League champions go into 2020 as League 2 leaders.
Hartley, who replaced John Sheran as manager in the summer, has guided Cove to the summit of League 2 in the club’s first campaign in the SPFL.
With 40 points from a possible 51 amassed so far, Hartley is delighted with the start his men have made but knows they must maintain their standards when Elgin City visit Balmoral Stadium today – with Edinburgh City just two points behind in second place.
Hartley said: “To average 20 points a quarter is a fantastic achievement and one of the big reasons for that has been our excellent home form.
“We’ve made a strong start but that’s all it is, a start. We know we have to keep it going and no one is going to lie down and give you the points.
“We’ve got Elgin coming to our place and in Kane Hester and Shane Sutherland they have a dangerous front two. We’ve played teams here who have come to Cove and tried to sit in and defend but we expect Elgin to come and have a go.”
Meanwhile, Elgin boss Gavin Price has called on his side to take inspiration from some of their higher-league scalps.
Elgin make their first trip to Balmoral Stadium this afternoon to face a Cove side two points clear at the top after 17 games.
The Black and Whites, who lost 2-0 when the sides met at Borough Briggs in September, gained plaudits earlier in the campaign when they defeated the likes of Dundee, Airdrieonians and Hibernian colts in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup.
Price has called for a similar show of character.
He said: “When we played Cove there wasn’t a lot in it. We just got off to a bad start against them.
“It’s going to be difficult. Cove have won eight out of eight at home this season. They are a good footballing side. They have some good players and they keep the ball really well.
“Looking at their stats, they are always really well ahead possession-wise and they play very attractive football.
“I think we are quite similar in the way we approach the game. If both teams are on form it will be a good game.
“It’s obviously going to be tough for us, but we have been to places this season where we have performed well.
“We have had cup ties against Hibs, Dundee and Airdrie, so we should certainly be going there with the aim of getting something from the game.”
Elgin go into today’s game in fifth place, with the opportunity to jump into the play-off spots if they win.