Cove Rangers recorded their 10th Highland League win of the season to go three points clear of their landlords Inverurie Locos and, on the evidence of this showing, will be in no hurry to return to Aberdeen when their new stadium is ready.
The sides went into the game level on points but with John Sheran’s team having four games in hand on their opponents.
Cove were in no mood to slip up. Front pairing Ryan Stott and Mitch Megginson gave their side a two-goal cushion in the first half but a Greg Mitchell own goal was the vital goal as half-time approached, Megginson then putting the icing on the cake with his 29th of the campaign.
Former Don Megginson praised his team-mates after the final whistle.
He said: “It came down to a really good team performance. Everyone was clicking together and the tactics were spot on. It’s always good to get yourself on the scoresheet but attaining the three points is of more importance.
“Harlaw Park is pretty much as close as you can get to a home ground, the pitch was excellent, the groundsman does a great job. We were playing the league’s in-form team, so we always knew it would be a tough game. We’re delighted to get four goals and three points.
“We have a squad of great depth, whoever plays is going to put in a shift and play well. That’s what you need for a long season when you also want long runs in cup competitions.”
Former Locos winger Stott had the game’s first shot on target but in 20 minutes he was to set the standard for the day, picking up on a ball played through the left channel and angling a low drive past Locos goalkeeper Andy Reid at full stretch.
What Locos needed was a quick response and it came from Andy Hunter off a Neil McLean corner from the left but the former Banks o’ Dee forward’s fiercely hit strike came back off the top of the crossbar.
That was a lucky escape for the title favourites and within three minutes they went two up. Cove top scorer Megginson was allowed space at the edge of the box and he fired through with a number of players around him, beating Reid, who may have been unsighted.
To the other end again and the first of two opportunities which proved it was to be Cove’s day. First, a ball broke off a blue-shirted defender into the path of Hunter, who uncharacteristically ballooned over from close range.
Then with only a minute of the half remaining Jordan Leyden conceded a soft free kick and it allowed Jamie Masson the chance to play in a dangerous cross which Mitchell headed firmly into his own net.
Neil Cooper’s side looked to get a foothold in the contest right after the restart, 18-goal striker Neil Gauld looking odds-on to beat Stuart McKenzie when right in on goal. But Cove keeper McKenzie made a fine stop and Scott Ross was on the line to clear the rebound.
Megginson netted his second of the day in 52 minutes and it was sublime. He eased in off the left flank and, with seemingly little effort, floated an unstoppable dipping drive over the helpless Reid.
Locos first-team coach Stuart Duff, who played in midfield against his former team, said: “We didn’t start the game very well which is unlike what we’ve been doing in recent times.
“Fair play to Cove, their structure was good and they were deadly at times.
“Their first two goals came at very important times, we had an opportunity to pull a goal back through Andrew Hunter but didn’t take it.
“A frustrating day for us.”