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Peterhead: Jim McInally hopes Blue Toon can end Cove Rangers’ unbeaten run

Peterhead manager Jim McInally
Peterhead manager Jim McInally

Peterhead manager Jim McInally believes they can be the side to end Cove Rangers’ impressive unbeaten run.

Cove are unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions and hold a five-point lead at the top of League One, ahead of the New Year derby with their neighbours Peterhead.

When the two sides met in November it was a chastening afternoon for the Blue Toon, who were comfortably beaten 3-0 at the Balmoral Stadium.

McInally reckons that was the worst game Peterhead have had this season, as they struggled to lay a glove on Cove.

But in recent weeks they have shown improvement and had climbed into the top half of the table before the Boxing Day fixtures.

With their own need for points taking priority at Balmoor on Sunday, McInally is confident his side have what it takes to get a result against the league-leaders.

Mitch Megginson beats Brett Long to the ball in the previous meeting between Cove Rangers and Peterhead
Mitch Megginson beats Brett Long to the ball in the previous meeting between Cove Rangers and Peterhead

He said: “They gave us the biggest hiding we’ve had, in the last game. I didn’t feel we were competitive that day and that’s the least we need to be on Sunday.

“I feel as though if we play well we can win it. I’m not going into it with any other thoughts than that.

“We just need to try be that team (who ends the unbeaten run). We’re not doing it for any but ourselves. We need the points.

“It’s a great game to start the new year with. I’m just a wee bit disappointed with the crowd situation – for all we could have got close to what we got for the last game at Cove (925), it’ll still be good to have people there.

“We’re playing against a team that’s absolutely flying just now.”

With his goals against Dumbarton, forward Russell McLean broke double-figures for the season and became Peterhead’s leading scorer.

McInally thinks there is still more to come from the former Montrose man, who returned to the club for a second time in the summer.

He added: “He’s in decent nick just now. He worked really hard last week against Montrose, without really getting any opportunities.

Peterhead striker Russell McLean
Peterhead striker Russell McLean

“He made it difficult for the centre-halves and that’s what we need to do on Sunday against Cove. We can’t let them dictate the way they did the last time, we need to be in about them.

“Russell doesn’t like being pigeon-holed as a target man. I think opposition players see him as a challenge in the air and when Russell rises to that, more often than not he wins it.

“But he’s the first to say he’s got good feet and that’s why he wants the ball on the deck.”

Along with long-term injury absentees Ryan Conroy, Gary Fraser and Alan Cook, McInally will also be without Grant Savoury (knee) and David Wilson (hip) for the Cove game. Josh Mulligan is suspended.

He is hopeful Simon Ferry and Andy McCarthy will be back available though, after recent spells on the sidelines.

McInally added: “We need to manage the squad. We’ve got the three longer-term injuries and that’s why we’re not taking chances with Grant and pushing him into a game on Sunday.”

The Peterhead boss is also waiting to hear whether loan players Josh Mulligan, Danny Strachan and Lyall Cameron will remain with the club beyond January, or be recalled by their parent club Dundee.

There has been positive news with Ryan Duncan, however, with the Blue Toon confirming yesterday he had extended his loan until the end of the season.

McInally said: “I am delighted on two fronts. Firstly, it is great to get the chance to work with Ryan for longer. He is young but he will develop into a really good player as he works hard at his game and has a beautiful left peg.

“He has impressed us in training with his attitude and has done well in the two games he has been involved in. He is well supported by his family, who I know have been at our games home and away, to watch him and hopefully they will see a lot more of him on the pitch in the coming months.”

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