Cove Rangers 2-0 Fort William

A tremendous performance saw unfancied Fort William come away from Aberdeen with their heads held high, despite going down 2-0 to Cove Rangers. The Lochaber side brushed aside their traditional tag of ‘whipping-boys’ by producing a battling performance, with the reigning champions below-par throughout.

Cove came close in the opening stages when Jordan Heads found himself unmarked in the centre, but nodded Kevin Webster’s cross over the bar. Fort also showed early promise on twelve minutes when Sean Ellis raced onto a long clearance by goalkeeper John Campbell, but shot harmlessly over.

However just three minutes later the home side snatched the opening goal that Fort William were dreading, albeit with a hint of good fortune. Murray McCulloch hit the byline before pulling the ball back into the path of Danny Milne at the near post, and although the striker mis-hit his effort, it still carried enough to deceive Campbell and notch the ex-Locos man his fourteenth goal of the season.

As Cove looked to double their lead, Webster started to influence Cove’s attacking play. Twenty-five minutes in the winger came agonizingly close to achieving this feat, when he latched onto McCulloch’s through-ball, cut inside the defence before firing a low drive inches wide of Campbell’s left-hand post.

The visitors did not appear in any way deflated by the goal, and managed to produce two glorious chances to equalise. On thirty-two minutes Sean Ellis whipped a ball into the danger area, where the unmarked John Hewitt was lurking, but he was unable to get enough contact on the ball to force it home. Just thirty seconds later Ellis managed to create an opening for himself 12 yards out, but snatched at his shot and blasted it high over the crossbar.

Cove appeared to be lethargic in their pursuit of the second goal, and it took them until just before the break to seriously threaten. Another magnificent run from Webster saw him evade the challenges of three visiting players before firing across goal, where the ball ricocheted off the goalkeeper and hit the post, before bouncing clear.

The home side hit the woodwork once again just a minute later. This time the ball fell to Jamie Buchan on the edge of the box following a corner, and his storming effort cannoned off the post with no takers to convert the rebound.

Milne brought Cove’s flurry of chances to an end on forty-four minutes, when he cut in from the right and fired a shot towards the near post, but Campbell was alert to palm away and deny the striker his second.

Half-time – Cove Rangers 1-0 Fort William

At the start of the second-half the home side picked up from where they left off, and Webster’s 25-yard free-kick was swerving into the postage stamp corner, but Campbell was at full stretch to make a wonderful parried save.

Fort sensed that they were very much still in the game, and Michael Ellis found a sight of goal on 56 minutes. However, he was thwarted by a sharp block by Stuart McKenzie.

The Toonsers ought to have put daylight between the two sides on two minutes later, but had goalscorer Milne to blame for spurning a glorious chance. Webster’s delivery was angled to the far post, where Milne somehow contrived to blast the ball over the bar from 5 yards.

Once again poor finishing was to blame for Cove’s failure to increase their lead on 66 minutes, as Barrie Stephen’s delivery found Martin Johnston in plenty of space inside the box. However, he was somewhat complacent with his effort, allowing Campbell to make an impressive block with his legs.

The Lochaber side looked to take advantage of Cove’s sloppy finishing, and Michael Gillespie came close on 75 minutes, as he prodded Ian Foggo’s delivery narrowly over the bar. Five minutes later they found another opening, as the impressive half-time substitute Sam Urquhart found himself in space on the edge of the box, but he rifled his shot straight into the grateful arms of McKenzie.

Having made heavy work of Fort, who hadn’t played a game since 5th December, Cove finally wrapped up the three points with seven minutes to spare. Substitute Phil Reid fired a tempting cross in to the far post, where Eric Watson was on hand to guide the ball home with a downwards header.

The result means that Cove now advance three points ahead of Huntly, but remain three points behind leaders Buckie Thistle with a game in hand.

Team-lines:

Cove Rangers – McKenzie, Cruikshank, Heads (Black 66), McCulloch, Watson, Tindal, Webster, Johnston, Stephen (P.Reid 79), Buchan, Milne (Henderson 72).

Unused Subs – Huggins, Windrum.

Fort William – Campbell, Foggo (Redpath 88), Bamber, Martin, Quigg, Mark Gillespie, Hewitt (Finnis 78), Mackintosh (Urquhart 45), M.Ellis, S.Ellis, Michael Gillespie.

Man of the Match – John Campbell (Fort William)

Referee – R. Cobb

Attendance – 150

Post-match reaction

Jerry O’Driscoll (Cove Rangers)

“We were absolutely terrible. We’ve spoken to the players all week about togetherness and team-spirit, and in the end we’ve taken lessons from the eleven Fort William players. How we won that game I’m not entirely sure.

The dressing room is not a very chirpy place just now. We’ve got a tough run of games coming up, so I’ve told the players to go home and take a real look at themselves, because we can’t afford to produce performances like that.”

Calum Maclean (Fort William)

“I was very impressed with the boys today, especially after having not had a game since 5th December. We’ve hardly trained because of the conditions back home, so to put on a performance like that is unbelievable.

It’s one of the fixtures we dread, because it’s a very difficult place to come to. We normally get beaten by seven or eight goals, but we have limited that to four and two over the last two seasons respectively. We outdid anything we’ve done before here at Cove, so I’m really chuffed for the boys.”

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