There has been little which has stood in Cove Rangers’ way over the last two years, as their progress into the SPFL continues at pace.
Their first season in the SPFL saw them soar to League Two title glory and even with Covid in the mix, they have put themselves in a position to climb the next rung of the ladder.
Two games in three days, should they come through them, will hand them a two-legged tie against either Montrose or Morton for a shot at Championship promotion.
“From day one we were winning trophies and titles, so it’s been progression after progression,” said Cove defender Scott Ross. “This year, so far, has been the same and hopefully we can keep it going.
“I’d say this year has been more impressive. You’ve had the case of playing three full-time teams who have been at this level for a number of years. Three years ago we were playing in the Highland League.
“You’ve also got the Covid situation to adapt to and the 10-week break we had. This has been a really impressive year.”
Cove, like every other club in League One and League Two, has had to cram games in since March 20. A Covid-enforced break from January left a backlog of fixtures and amended schedule, reducing the calendar from 27 to 22 games.
They ended up playing four games in seven days in the split, finishing third in the table with just two defeats in the league since January.
“It’s been tough for every team to be honest,” Ross said. “I’d say it’s been tougher for the part-time teams as the players are working full-time, then having football in between. If you’re full-time, you’d maybe get days off in between games.
“Some guys are getting finished from football at nine or 10 at night, away up or down the road for a couple of hours then up at five to go and graft on a building site.
“Where we’ve finished in the league is credit to the staff and players, how hard we’ve worked this season. We’ve now got two massive games to look forward to.”
Airdrieonians enter the play-offs as the form team. They have won seven of their last nine, including a victory over Falkirk on Tuesday night which dumped the Bairns out of the play-offs.
It would be easy for Cove to attach greater significance to these games, given what is at stake, but this is a team used to handling such occasions.
“You treat every game the same – it’s a game of football you want to go and win,” Ross said. “If you treat it a bit more importantly, that’s when mistakes can creep in.
“You could say there’s some advantages (to playing Airdrie recently), as you get an idea of who you’ll be up against. But it’s a totally different game.
“We’re hoping to get through the two games – the two biggest games in the club’s history – but we’re hoping to get another two and make them the next biggest games.
“It’s what we’re striving for as a squad. We want to bring these big games to Cove. The squad is capable of achieving big things and hopefully there’s bigger games to come.”
Cove are also proof of the success of the pyramid system, having made the step up to the SPFL in 2019.
There has been much discussion in recent weeks about the merit of the pyramid play-offs taking place, with Cove’s former Highland League rivals Brora Rangers involved once again.
Common sense prevailed, with the first leg taking place in Brora on Tuesday night, with Ross a fan of the structure which provides a pathway for ambitious clubs.
“That’s why it was a wee bit disappointing last season that Brora and Kelty didn’t get the chance,” added Ross. “But they had their game on Tuesday and Kelty put in a really good performance.
“It just shows you if you’ve got the squad of players and you work hard with the management team, it’s possible to get promoted.”