The race for the Highland League title is very much alive after Cove and Brora battled out a highly entertaining goalless draw at Balmoral Stadium.
Goals between the two teams with the best defensive records in the league were always going to be at a premium and ultimately it was the performance of Cattachs’ goalkeeper Joe Malin which meant Cove were held to a first draw of the season.
Man of the match Malin said: “I made a couple of decent saves but to be fair they were the type of saves that both myself and my team-mates would expect me to make.
“The race for the title is still on. Nobody in our dressing room is giving up, that was the first thing that was said when we got back in.”
Brora created the first chance inside two minutes but Martin Maclean lost his balance and the opportunity was gone.
Harry Milne made a good run up the left but he was well policed by Brora striker Zander Sutherland with the pressure forcing the Cove defender to send his cross out of play.
Things got a bit heated in the 22nd minute when Mark Nicolson flattened Milne with referee Greg Soutar booking the former Elgin City centre-half as well as his team-mate Zander Sutherland and Cove’s Mitch Megginson who were involved in an off-the-ball melee.
The game was held up for several minutes after a collision of heads between Brora full-back Ally Macdonald and Cove striker Megginson but after treatment both players were able to continue.
Malin produced a brilliant save seven minutes before the break to stop a Jamie Masson piledriver after the midfielder’s 25-yard free-kick was blocked by Brora’s defensive wall.
The goalkeeper did even better two minutes later to dive and palm away a ferocious Jordon Brown drive.
Brora replied with a Sutherland angled drive which could only find the side-netting.
Cove should have taken the lead in the first minute of stoppage time but uncharacter-istically Megginson blazed high over the crossbar from six yards.
Megginson passed up another great chance in the 65th minute but he failed to make contact with a Paul McManus cross with the goal at his mercy.
With eight minutes left Malin dived full length to brilliantly parry a fierce angled drive from Cove substitute Jordan MacRae.
Cove’s top scorer Megginson felt they created the game’s best chances.
He said: “I can’t remember Brora having a shot on target while we had a good few chances of our own but the ball didn’t quite drop for us.
“Joe Malin made a couple of good saves and one skiffed over my foot when it looked easier to score. It was just one of those days for me but the race for the title is still in our hands, and that’s what we wanted.
“I think Brora came for a draw and they got it.”