Michael Doyle admits it’s been a whirlwind month after swapping the gym trainers for football boots as he helped Cove Rangers secure passage into the Scottish Cup fourth round.
The right-back joined the Balmoral side at the start of November and has slotted in perfectly as his new side have racked up seven wins on the spin in league and cup.
That run now includes a second straight win over Stirling Albion, with Saturday’s 2-0 success at Forthbank kickstarted by Doyle’s bullet header from Connor Scully’s corner after just ten minutes.
Doyle said: “Five weeks ago, I was on a treadmill in a gym hating life, not wanting to watch football because I couldn’t get a club and now I’m the total opposite, loving life and scoring goals, it just shows you how quickly things can change.
“It’s good to help the team out, I think I’m up front next game! It’s good to get another clean sheet because that’s what I’m paid to do, to keep the ball out of the other side.
“I didn’t know how to celebrate as you can imagine, I take the kids for some coaching and that’s how they celebrate so that’s how I did it as well.”
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) November 26, 2023
Cove were on the front foot early doors in Stirling, with the previous week’s hat-trick hero Rumarn Burrell almost following up Doyle’s opener minutes later, only for his shot to be met with a fingertip stop by Binos keeper Mark Weir.
The visitors survived a scare when Robert Thomson’s close-range header came crashing off the bar on the half hour.
Connor Scully then saw a shot whistle just wide of the mark as Cove pressed for a killer second.
And it was the stalwart midfielder who madee it two on 50 minutes, driving past a trio of Stirling challenges before rifling a confident finish beyond Weir.
Scully had the chance to get his brace for the afternoon after being played in by Burrell, but his goalbound effort was well blocked by Stirling skipper Paul McLean.
Burrell squandered a final chance in added time to pad the lead, but it was plain sailing for Cove as they secured passage to the big boys in the fourth round.
Cove boss Paul Hartley said: “I thought we were excellent in the first 25 minutes and then lost our way a wee bit which you maybe expect, we didn’t stay on the ball long enough and made too many errors but we got the goals at good times.
“We defended the box really well in terms of blocking things, we got let off in the first half with the header but we’re in the hat, it’s great for the club and it keeps the momentum going – another clean sheet with different scorers.
“We came down here six weeks ago and we were poor for about 65 minutes until we went down to ten men, it’s been a real turn in fortunes but that’s because of how the players have worked.”