After picking up their first point of the season the previous Saturday it was a changed team for this match against Cove Rangers in the first round of the Irn Bru Cup. The changes were not a consequence of taking the opposition or the competition lightly though as they were enforced on manager Brown Ferguson. David Marsh was out through injury, Mark Ferry was suspended, Nathan Blockley was rested [though he came on as a sub] and Harry Paton was on cup duty for his parent club Hearts [where he scored the winning goal against Formartine]. These absences meant that Thomas Halleran, Martin Scott, Eddie Ferns and Ross Gilmour came into the starting eleven.
Cove were pipped to the Highland League title by Buckie Thistle on goal difference last season despite not having a home ground to call their own whilst a replacement for Allan Park was being built and they were determined not to see the same scenario this season winning every game scoring freely and thus came to Ochilview full of confidence.
The Aberdeen side took the early initiative and Jamie Masson hit a shot through a ruck of players after only 33 seconds that Chris Smith was able to save. Stenhousemuir gradually came into the game and Ferns saw an effort deflected wide before Mark McGuigan was denied by an alert Stuart McKenzie in the Cove goal. Chris Smith did well to beat out a Paul McManus effort at close range in the 18th minute but he was beaten a minute later when a Harry Milne cross was deflected into his own net by Ross Dunlop. Halleran, Ferns and Ross Meechan all had shots off target for Stenhousemuir as did Masson for Cove before the visitors extended their lead in the 36th minute. A burst of pace by Mitch Megginson took him into the box where he was fouled by Ruaridh Donaldson and referee Scott Lambie awarded a penalty which Megginson duly converted.
Either side of the interval Cove could have had a third goal with Ryan Strachan, who controlled the midfield, hitting a first time shot that was saved on the stroke of half time and Smith was to save from McManus just after the resumption.
As the second half progressed Cove were happy to defend deeper and hit on the counter attack where they always looked a threat. For the most part this was successful as Stenhousemuir either shot from distance or played high balls into the middle that was dealt with comfortably by the Cove defence that was well marshalled by Eric Watson who had received a testimonial only a couple of days earlier.
Colin McMenamin brought McKenzie into action in the 75th minute after picking up a loose ball after Watson did well to cut out a through ball. This was the first real threat of the half and although the home side had most of the play by now they didn’t have the cutting edge. The closest that they came to reducing the deficit was a McMenamin header that was cleared off the line by Watson.
The performance wasn’t the best and was summed up in the last minute when a McGuigan hook shot flew not just over the bar but also the enclosure roof as well. There can be no complaint s about the defeat as Cove had a game plan and executed it well throughout the game.
|August 15, 2017||7:45 pm||Irn-Bru Cup||2017/18||90'|
|55 Gladstone Rd, Stenhousemuir, Larbert FK5, UK|
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|