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Peterhead have benefitted from Cove Rangers rivalry, says Jim McInally

Peterhead manager Jim McInally
Peterhead manager Jim McInally

Jim McInally reckons Peterhead have benefitted from having a local rivalry with fellow north-east side Cove Rangers.

The two sides have met five times since Cove joined the SPFL in 2019, with the Aberdeen side winning three times and the Blue Toon twice.

Prior to that you had to go back to the Highland League days, when the clubs would meet each other on a regular basis.

In the 21 years Peterhead have been part of the Scottish leagues their nearest rivals have primarily been Elgin City. But with Cove’s ascension and the numbers of players who have played for both clubs, it gives the game an added edge.

“Between the players knowing each other so well and the locality, it really is (a derby),” said McInally. “I’m pretty sure there was a big rivalry in the Highland League and that doesn’t go.

Peterhead defender Andy McDonald (left) challenges Robbie Leitch of Cove Rangers.
Peterhead defender Andy McDonald (left) challenges Robbie Leitch of Cove Rangers

“The supporters will remember the games from the Highland League days – that will always be there, especially with the older ones.

“It’s as close as we get to a derby. It’s certainly a better derby than the Elgin derby used to be.

“It’s hard for our fans to come and watch us with the Covid situation but with it just being along the road, Scotland playing Friday, no Celtic and no Rangers, it’ll be interesting to see what crowd we get.

“We played them last year without a crowd so it would be nice to get a decent crowd with Aberdeen not playing.

“I’ve said before Cove are well capable of winning it. They’re the most experienced team with the best striker in (Mitch) Megginson. They’ve got good footballers all over the park.”

The Blue Toon were beaten 3-1 last weekend by Airdrieonians, bringing to an end their four-game unbeaten run. Simon Ferry (hamstring) is likely to be fit, while Niah Payne, Jordon Brown and Ryan Conroy trained during the week. However, a knee problem may see Hamish Ritchie – a one-time Cove loanee – ruled out.

Peterhead midfielder Hamish Ritchie.
Peterhead midfielder Hamish Ritchie

“We pulled Hamish out of training this week because he’s been carrying an injury for a while now,” said McInally. “I’ve got nothing but praise for him because many players would have pulled out long before now.

“I need to give him a wee break if I can. He’s a big loss to us if he’s not playing. His senior career, before he came to us, was something like five games. But he’s not missed a game since he’s come to us, which speaks volumes for his attitude.

“Last week he didn’t feel comfortable taking a corner with his right foot but wanted to play on. We’ll see how he is; if he turns round and says he’s not feeling it then we might play him.

“But we need to look after him. He’s too important to us.”

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