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Cove Rangers goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie savours testimonial

Stuart McKenzie, centre, with his children receives a guard of honour before Cove Rangers played Dunfermline
Stuart McKenzie, centre, with his children receives a guard of honour before Cove Rangers played Dunfermline

Stuart McKenzie thanked the Cove Rangers supporters who turned out for his testimonial.

The goalkeeper – who has spent 12 years with the Aberdeen outfit over two spells – was honoured with a game against Dunfermline Athletic at the Balmoral Stadium.

Although the Pars prevailed 2-0 the result couldn’t detract from a special day for McKenzie.

The 34-year-old was given a guard of honour before kick-off and a standing ovation from the 464 inside the ground when substituted with 11 minutes left.

During his time with Cove McKenzie has won League One, League Two, the SPFL pyramid play-offs, five Highland Leagues, two Highland League Cups, two Aberdeenshire Cups and two Aberdeenshire Shields.

He said: “I’m delighted to have spent so long at Cove and to have had so many successful years.

“To get the game as a reward for the work I’ve put in over the years was good for me and my family.

“It was good to get the reception I got and great to have my kids with me as well.

“It was nice of the fans to turn out for me, I’m sure some of them have missed the football over the last six or seven weeks.

“So it was good for them to be back and I’d like to thank them for turning out to support myself and the team.”

Cove’s Mark Reynolds and and Dunfermline’s Kevin O’Hara. Pic by Chris Sumner.

Bright future

The match was also Cove’s first under new manager Jim McIntyre and McKenzie is upbeat ahead of Cove’s first season in the Championship.

He added: “Every season we look to do as well as we can, that’s served us well over the last four or five years and we’ll try to continue that.

“It’s been good so far (under McIntyre), the manager is just trying to get his ideas across and we’re adapting to that and I think we’ll do well.

“The conditions were tough, the pitch was dry which makes it harder.

“Dunfermline have been in training longer than us which showed in the end.

“It will stand us in good stead with the games to come I think.”

Attacking impetus

In his first game manager Jim McIntyre went with an attack-minded line-up.

Rory McAllister and Mitch Megginson were paired in attack with Jamie Masson operating just in behind.

Blair Yule and Connor Scully were deployed as wing-backs with Fraser Fyvie and Iain Vigurs in the middle of the park, while Scott Ross, Morgyn Neill and Mark Reynolds made up the back three.

In the first period McKenzie showed his class with fine interventions to thwart Josh Edwards, Kevin O’Hara and Craig Wighton but he was powerless to prevent to Dunfermline netting on 32 minutes.

From a short corner a ball to the back post was headed back across goal by Rhys Breen and Lewis McCann nodded into the bottom right corner.

Cove’s Mitch Megginson, centre, tries to get away from Rhys Breen, left, and Josh Edwards during Stuart McKenzie’s testimonial

Cove enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half, but at times they struggled to move the ball quick enough to penetrate the Pars rearguard in the final third.

Early in the second period Cove changed formation to 4-1-4-1 with Megginson, Fyvie, Yule and Masson playing behind McAllister.

Shortly after neat footwork from Scully created a chance for Megginson who fired narrowly over.

The game continued to be played at a good tempo, although chances were at a premium.

After McKenzie had been subbed in the 79th minute replacement Kyle Gourlay’s first task was to pick the ball out of the net.

O’Hara slotted home having been teed up by sub Nikolay Todorov.

Cove’s next pre-season outing is next Saturday against Gala Fairydean Rovers (1pm kick-off).

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