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Cove Rangers and Mitch Megginson return to Airdrie motivated by last season’s play-off hurt

Cove Rangers captain Mitch Megginson celebrates scoring against Peterhead
Cove Rangers captain Mitch Megginson celebrates scoring against Peterhead

Saturday sees Cove Rangers and Mitch Megginson return to the scene of where last season ended so painfully.

Cove’s bid for promotion to the Championship was halted in the cruelest of fashions at the Excelsior Stadium, as Airdrieonians staged a late escape act.

A stoppage-time goal from Rory McAllister appeared to have sent Cove through to the final to face Morton, however, the Diamonds found time to level the scores again before Callum Gallagher sealed their progress in extra-time.

The two sides meet again on Saturday dueling at the top of League One, with Airdrieonians holding a point advantage over Cove.

“It was difficult because we wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity to get promoted. We would have liked to get through to the final to face Morton and see how we got on,” said Megginson.

Cove's Mitch Megginson celebrates making it 1-0.
Cove’s Mitch Megginson celebrates making it 1-0 against Airdrieonians in last season’s play-offs

“It’s part and parcel of football. We’d lost our whole left side with Harry (Milne) and (Jamie) Masson injured and then I had to come off.

“The format last year made it difficult to get a good run of games and be fit and fresh. In a different season, it would have been an even better contest if we were able to keep some of our main players fit.

“The manner of it was disappointing; we were probably 30 seconds away from winning it, then we go on to lose it in extra-time.

“You get ups and downs in football and we have to use that as motivation this year, to push on and get that promotion.”

Cove’s Rory McAllister (L) celebrates making it 2-1 against Airdrieonians

The result felt raw for a while, but Cove have habit of using such setbacks to their advantage.

Missing out on the Highland League title in 2017, they won it a year later. Falling short in promotion to the SPFL in 2018, they achieved that 12 months down the line.

“Because we’re used to doing it so often, coming up from the Highland League and winning things, that will always hurt us,” said Megginson. “But we use it as motivation and we’ve done it in the past. We always seem to bounce back and have a good season the following one.

“We wanted to give ourselves the best chance of getting promoted. Obviously Partick went on a great run and won the league. We finished strongly and to finish where we did, in probably the most competitive league in Scotland – it was a successful season from our point of view.”

There is little breathing space at the top of League One just now. Queen’s Park, Montrose and Falkirk are all in the mix in a congested top-half, all with ambitions to go a step further and into the Championship.

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

“You can’t rule anyone out,” added Megginson. “When I speak to anyone about this league, if you go on a run of three or four wins you shoot up the league quickly.

“If you lose three or four, you find yourselves quickly falling down the league.

“There’s obviously a pack up there at the top and it’s up to us to make sure we continue being in touching distance.

“There would be no surprise if it comes to the end of March and you’ve still got four teams fighting for the title. There’s quite a good possibility that could happen.

“Trying to predict who’s going to run away with it is near-impossible. It’s the nature of the league – every game you go into you have to be at 100 per cent to pick up points. If you have an off-day, you’re going to be punished.”

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