Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley believes the League One title race is done and dusted.
League leaders Falkirk moved 11 points clear of second-placed Hamilton Accies thanks to a 4-0 win against Hartley’s side on Tuesday.
With his side 19 points adrift of John McGlynn’s Bairns, Hartley expects the chase to be a forlorn one come the end of the campaign for the other promotion hopefuls.
The Cove manager said: “Falkirk are a very strong outfit and I can’t see anyone catching them to be honest.
“Hamilton, who are 11 points behind with a game in hand, will try but Falkirk’s form has been absolutely sensational and if they continue the form it’s going to be very hard for anyone to catch them.
“Falkirk are a really good team and are top of the league for a reason.
“They’ve got a good squad there and forward players who are a real threat.
“They are in tremendous form and we found that out on Tuesday.
“We knew going down there we had to make it difficult for them and the crowd would be behind them.
“We did a decent job of that for 43 minutes but conceded just before half-time and in the second half they were 2-0 up after 30 seconds so the game plan went out the window.”
Cove on target for play-offs
While Hartley expects the gap to be too big to bridge barring a Falkirk collapse the Cove manager is happy with his side’s progress following a slow start.
A summer revamp at Balmoral Stadium resulted in Falkirk and Hamilton pulling clear of Cove.
But with his side clear in third place after a run of two defeats in 15 matches Hartley knows his side is firmly in the promotion play-off picture.
He said: “Our start has hurt us a wee bit but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy due to the turnover of players.
“The hybrid model has taken more time to adjust to for some people but I’m pleased with where we are considering the start we made.”
Hartley ready for round four against Hamilton
Having played the league leaders Cove now must dust themselves down and go again at New Douglas Park against the second-placed Accies today.
This will be the fourth meeting of the sides this season and with the teams having one 1-0 win each and a 2-2 draw in the Viaplay Cup group stage there has been little between them.
Hartley does not expect that to be any different after this afternoon’s encounter.
He said: “They’ve got a strong squad and they brought a few more in last week with Makenzie Kirk from Hearts and Ben Williamson.
“You’re never quite sure what team they are going to put out but with Falkirk having strengthened their position at the top of the league everyone else is fighting for a play-off spot.
“We’ve had a strong November and December and if we can keep in the top three between now and the end of the season, which will not be easy, we’ll be in the play-offs and you never know what can happen then.”
Meanwhile, Cove Rangers have confirmed that midfielder Tyler Mykyta has joined Forfar Athletic on loan for the rest of the season.
Hartley said: “He’s a talented boy but at this stage in his career, he needs minutes on the park.
“I would hope he will get plenty game time in the coming months, which will be important for him, and he will come back to us a more rounded player, ready to play his part in the future.”
The club can confirm that young winger Tyler Mykyta has joined Forfar Athletic on loan for the remainder of the 2023/24 campaign.
Everyone at Balmoral Stadium would like to wish Tyler all the best for his time at Station Park.
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) January 12, 2024