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Cove Rangers: Paul Hartley pleased with dominant win over Peterhead as Blue Toon boss Jim McInally criticises ‘soft’ performance

Mitch Megginson celebrates putting Cove Rangers 2-0 up against Peterhead
Cove Rangers goalscorer Mitch Megginson

Thirty-six miles may separate Cove Rangers and Peterhead but on Saturday afternoon they were poles apart.

Cove dominated from start to finish, running out 3-0 winners in a game that could easily have been double that in their favour.

Defensively they negated what limited threat Peterhead posed, while in midfield they were highly efficient. Up front, the pairing of Rory McAllister and Mitch Megginson – the latter scored two of the three goals – linked up beautifully.

Ryan Strachan, a former Blue Toon player, also found the net on an afternoon which saw Cove waltz away with the derby spoils.

Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley and Mitch Megginson
Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley and Mitch Megginson

“I thought we were superb, from the first minute to the last,” said Cove manager Paul Hartley. “I felt we could have scored more goals – we weren’t clinical enough in the first half – but some of our play, our pressing and counter-pressing, was excellent.

“I changed the shape after we took a look at them and thought how we could improve. Everybody played their part.

“We’ve got to keep winning and being hard to beat. We try play on the front foot and play good football.

“Good strikers always come back for more and the link-up play between Mitch and Rory – if one doesn’t score, the other one does. We looked a real threat.”

One of the key facets of the performance was Cove switching to three at the back, which matched up Peterhead’s current system.

“It’s something I thought about right after the game last week,” added Hartley. “It’s something we worked on; we knew they would go with two up, or one up with one off, and we’d have a spare centre-half for any trouble in behind or in front of us.

Ryan Strachan scores the opening goal for Cove

Cove started positively and did not relent. David Wilson was required to make two early goal-line clearances to deny McAllister and Jamie Masson, while Megginson hit the crossbar.

Brett Long kept out McAllister with a smart stop with his feet and Wilson again was in the right place at the right time to deny Megginson.

The second half continued in much the same vein. Megginson broke away early and after Long had missed coming to clear the ball, Flynn Duffy was required to block the goal-bound strike.

But from the resulting corner Cove were in front, as Morgyn Neill headed Masson’s cross back into the six-yard box for Strachan to turn home.

Megginson got his first goal with 12 minutes to go, as he chopped back inside from Masson’s pass and wrong-footed Long, while the Peterhead goalkeeper brought down Leighton McIntosh in stoppage-time for a late penalty.

Mitch Megginson is congratulated after getting his second from the penalty spot
Cove Rangers skipper Mitch Megginson is congratulated after getting his second from the penalty spot

With regular taker McAllister off the field, Megginson stepped up to crash the ball into the top corner.

It made for a chastening afternoon for Peterhead manager Jim McInally, who was far from pleased with his side’s display.

“It was a good result for us – probably six, seven or eight would have been a fairer reflection of the game,” he said. “In every department we were well-beaten.

“They were better than us by a long way. The biggest disappointment was the performance, they never turned up.

“They were soft, it took them 90 minutes to get in behind. The sad thing is it took a 41-year-old to go on and show a bit of enthusiasm.

“We don’t play teams as good as Cove (every week) with their fantastic movement. All over the park, they know what they’re doing.

“Maybe we were too young, especially in the full-back areas. But it’s not just the young players. All over the park we were poor.”

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