PICTURES: Extra special for Cove as they sink United

Paul McManus celebrates his goal. Pictures by Jim Irvine

Cove Rangers will travel to the Haughs to face Turriff United in the semi-finals of the Morrison Motors (Turriff) Aberdeenshire Shield after edging out Formartine United with a Paul McManus strike three minutes from the end of extra time at North Lodge Park, Pitmedden, last night.

McManus stabbed home the winner from eight yards after a Mitch Megginson feed had broken off Stuart Smith.

United had taken a 28th-minute lead through Graeme Rodger and 10 minutes later Ryan Stott levelled, with the same player creating the opening for Megginson’s 72nd-minute breakaway goal, his 30th of the season.

That looked the winner until full back Smith struck with a last-gasp headed equaliser four minutes into added time.

Cove manager John Sheran said: “We showed great character to bounce back and go on win the game in extra time. The first half was as good a game of football I’ve seen for a long time as both teams got the ball down and passed it around.”

United manager Paul Lawson said: “We came into the game in the second half and in extra time we were probable the better side but credit to Cove as they got over the line.”

Cove were without captain and centre half Eric Watson and striker Jonny Smith, both of whom had work commitments.

Both teams had early chances, the best falling to Formartine’s Rodger but his close-range header was too weak to trouble Stuart McKenzie in the Cove goal.

Formartine took the lead in the 28th minute when Harry Milne gave the ball away to Stuart Anderson who fed Archie Macphee and he played in Rodger to score with a 15-yard grounder into the corner of the net. Cove were back on level terms 10 minutes later when Stott’s six-yard header from Dean Lawrie’s cross gave Ewen Macdonald no chance.

Early in the second half Formartine’s central defender Craig McKeown fired a 25-yard free kick over the crossbar and Cove responded with a Stott 15-yarder which flew a yard wide of the target in this dress rehearsal for next month’s Scottish Cup fourth-round tie between the pair at the same venue.

In the 63rd minute Formartine introduced their recent signing from Brora Rangers, winger Andy Greig, in place of Macphee, who had had a quiet game apart from scoring.

Four minutes later Cove Rangers took Connor Scully off in favour of former Turriff forward Nick Gray.

In the 72nd minute Cove scored with a breakaway, a long ball from the back found Stott who raced up the left wing before squaring it into the middle for Mitch Megginson to slide the ball low past Macdonald from 12 yards for his 30th goal of the season.

In the fourth minute of injury time Stuart Anderson’s deep free kick was nodded over the line by Smith from four yards out for a dramatic equaliser.