Rory McAllister hopes he has done enough to earn a run in the Cove Rangers side after his match-winning heroics against Partick Thistle.
Former Peterhead striker McAllister scored with virtually the last kick of the game on Saturday against the Jags, in a game ruined by horrendous windy conditions.
McAllister admits it has been difficult to get used to not starting, having been a regular during his nine years at Peterhead.
However, after grabbing the goal which extended Cove’s 100 per cent record in League One, he hopes the tide has turned for him.
McAllister said: “It’s the same for all the boys who haven’t been playing. It’s a good bunch of players and everybody is in the right frame of mind to be playing. It’s tough when you’re not, so you’ve got to take your chance when you get it and hope you stay in the team.
“I think that was the longest I’ve been on the park this season. I hope I can now get in the team going forward and score goals for the team.
“It’s a bit strange when you’re used to playing every week. It can be frustrating at times and you can lose track of where you’re at. But these last few weeks I’ve got my head round it, knuckled down and showed I’m good enough to be in the team.
“There’s a lot of good players in the team. I’ve proved it there (at Peterhead) – now I’ve got to prove it here.”
Patience was even more of a necessity than normal for Cove. It was something Hartley preached with regularity from the sidelines, with the incessant high winds preventing the ball being moved quickly.
Cove tried to use the conditions to their advantage in the first half, pressing higher when Thistle had the ball at the back, while also hoping Leighton McIntosh could stretch the defence.
But aside from a snap-shot that went straight at Kieran Wright, McIntosh had little to feed on in the first half and Mitch Megginson even less so. The captain and leading scorer watched several times as the ball sailed beyond him, carried straight through to the goalkeeper by the wind.
Thistle did not muster much themselves, with a half-chance for Blair Spittal from the edge of the box comfortably gathered by Stuart McKenzie. Brian Graham toiled away as the lone striker with little in support, as Thistle’s midfield retreated into a unit of five to block spaces for Cove to play into.
Ian McCall’s side had to wait until the second period to threaten again, with James Penrice forcing McKenzie to punch his near-post strike away and then Spittal seeing his free-kick superbly tipped over by the Cove goalkeeper.
The hosts had a worry over defender Daniel Higgins, who limped off late on to be replaced by Ross Graham, and had Harry Milne to thank for heading Brian Graham’s shot off the line.
But there was time for McAllister to do what he has done so often over the years: put the ball in the back of the net. He met Blair Yule’s cut-back after Ross Docherty had dallied, lifting the ball past Wright to spark jubilant celebrations on the pitch and in the home dugout.
It has also maintained Cove’s incredible home record of 16 consecutive league wins at the Balmoral Stadium.
“Not a lot of teams come here and win, especially in the league,” added McAllister. “Hopefully we can show how good we are and try for promotion this year.”