Cove cruised past a disappointing Wick Academy outfit to lift the Breedon Aggregates Highland League Cup for the first time in a decade.
A first half penalty from man-of-the-match Daryl Nicol, a Daniel Park header early in the second period, another clinical Nicol strike and substitute Jonny Smith’s late goal saw Cove Rangers deservedly take the silverware.
The Allan Park side were streetwise and clinical while Academy never really recovered from conceding the penalty, which Nicol converted just after the half hour mark.
Reflecting on a memorable afternoon, Nicol said: “Jamie Watt did fantastically well to win the penalty, it was a stone-wall penalty, and I was quite confident about taking it.
“We really had to weather the storm against the wind in the first half, and the pitch was really difficult out there, but when we came in at the break 1-0 up I was quite confident that we would go on, with the wind at our backs, and win the game.
“Wick made it tough for us, they battled away and caused us a lot of problems, but nothing was going to stop us winning the trophy today, the boys were up for it, and right from the word go the lads were brilliant, all over the park.”
Cove Rangers were without suspended playmaker, Blair Yule, while forward Jonny Smith had recovered from his recent groin injury to earn a place on the bench.
Academy sprung something of a surprise by leaving front pair, Gary Weir, and giant Pole, Lukasz Geruzel, on the bench.
Cove won the toss and elected to face the strong breeze in the first half on a Grant Street Park pitch, which despite heavy overnight rain, was still very fiery.
It was a fairly nervy opening with neither side able to put their foot on the ball, but in the 19th minute Cove passed up a glorious chance to open the scoring when Daniel Park played in Nicol, but he sliced well wide of the target on the angle with only McCarthy to beat.
Shortly after Wick goalkeeper McCarthy did well to hold onto a swirling Connor Scully free-kick when under pressure from Cove central defender Eric Watson.
In the 31st minute Cove were awarded a penalty kick when Michael Steven needlessly brought Jamie Watt, who was turning away from goal, down just inside the box, and Nicol gave McCarthy no chance by firing the resultant spot-kick low into the bottom corner of the net.
It took a brave block by former Don, Stuart Duff, to stop a superb 25-yard volley from Gary Manson as the Caithness side struggled to get back into the game.
Just after the break Nicol tried his luck with 30-yard free-kick but McCarthy was able to gather at the second attempt.
Academy had a mountain to climb in the 53rd minute when Cove doubled their advantage, Scully’s deep corner kick was returned back into the six yard box by veteran Roy McBain and Daniel Park headed the ball down into the corner of the net.
It took until the hour mark for Wick to register their first shot on-target, Murray Kinnaird getting down brilliantly to turn away a fierce James Pickles 25-yard grounder.
Nicol burst through the Academy defence in the 70th minute but dragged his shot wide as McCarthy came out to meet him.
Academy brought on goalkeeper James More in place of McCarthy who suffered a reoccurrence of a recent groin injury. The substitute’s first touch was to parry a Park effort, unfortunately the rebound fell to the feet of hot-shot Nicol who drove home his second goal of the afternoon from 10 yards.
Two minutes from time Nicol set up number four for substitute Jonny Smith who clipped the ball past More from six yards.
Disappointed Academy midfielder, Sam Mackay, had no complaints, when he said: “It just wasn’t our day, conditions were tricky, although it was the same for both teams,
“The penalty decision probably changed the game, but in all honesty we just didn’t turn up today, it’s as simple as that. Cove took their chances well and the better team definitely won on the day.”