Paul Hartley has paid tribute to unsung Cove Rangers duo Morgyn Neill and Stuart McKenzie for their roles this season.
Centre-back Neill has played more minutes than anyone in a Cove jersey and after regaining the number one jersey early in the season, McKenzie has been a hugely-dependable figure between the posts.
Both players were rewarded with places in the League One team of the year, while Neill was also voted club player of the year in Cove’s end of season awards.
Neill joined from Dumbarton last summer, on the back of helping keep the Sons in League One. He spoke to The Press and Journal in March about the adaptation process for him in learning a new playing style.
Aside from a brief spell at Montrose, McKenzie has been a regular figure at Cove for more than a decade and has taken his performances into the SPFL.
“Stu has been so consistent, the amount of clean sheets we’ve had as a group,” said Hartley. “He can be really pleased with his work this year.
“Scoop (Neill) has been brilliant. He’s had a great season. He’s come in and fitted in with the team, plus he’s a great lad.
“He’s a winner, can defend and has improved his distribution. We’re delighted with the efforts of the players.
“When I spoke to him last year, I liked what I saw of him at Dumbarton. He really defended the box well.
“But the way we play as a team, can he come in and do it for us? It took him a wee while to adjust, maybe a good month into the season, but he’s been so consistent.”
Hartley was thrilled with the amount of recognition his players have received in the end-of-season awards.
Cove had three players – Harry Milne, Mitch Megginson and Rory McAllister – nominated for the League One player of the year while seven of the squad featured in the PFA Scotland team of the season for the division.
Your @PFAScotland League One Team of the Year ⬇️
Stuart Mckenzie – @CoveRangersFC
Cammy Ballantyne – @MontroseFC @dycey92 @MorgynNeill96 @HarryMilne96
Blair Yule – @CoveRangersFC @F_FYVIE @_adamfrizzell @MitchMegginson @Rory_mcA09 @DylanEaston31 pic.twitter.com/7ktESjwTDX
— PFA Scotland (@PFAScotland) April 25, 2022
“It’s brilliant we’ve got seven players in the team of the year,” said Hartley. “It’s a remarkable achievement and I’ve not seen that before.
“But then we’ve had three out of the four for the individual award. It’s a fitting way to end the season.
“We could have had more in the team of the year – Iain Vigurs has been absolutely outstanding for me. But we’re really pleased with the group we’ve got in.”