MITCH Megginson and Leighton McIntosh shared the goals as we began our League One campaign with a deserved 3-1 victory over East Fife at Balmoral Stadium.
Skipper Mitch also missed a penalty in an eventful afternoon that had begun with him doing the official unfurling of the League Two championship flag, which we won in such style last season.
He made amends for the spot miss with a well taken double before Leighton scored the third against a stuffy East Fife side, who weren’t helped by having Danny Denholm sent off in the first half and Aaron Dunsmore dismissed in the second.
There were certainly plenty of talking points for those watching the first match to ever be screened live on Cove Rangers TV.
The manager made five changes to the side that played up at Brora in midweek as we looked to maintain our record of never having dropped a point at Balmoral Stadium since stepping up to the SPFL, although we were still without the injured Fraser Fyvie.
East Fife served a reminder that it will be tougher now that we have stepped up another level by having the better of the early exchanges.
Darren Young’s men also created the first chance, when Liam Newton fired a decent shot over the crossbar from 19-yards.
Jack Hamilton then lashed in a powerful shot from 20 yards that was held by Stuart McKenzie as the Fifers broke forward again.
We responded with McIntosh crossing from the left to Jamie Semple but his volley lacked power and was easily gathered by East Fife keeper Brett Long.
We had a great opportunity to open the scoring in the 14th minute when Semple’s cross fell into the path of Megginson, but his 12-yard shot was beaten away by Long.
We were then handed a gilt-edged opportunity to take the lead when we were awarded the penalty, for a clumsy challenge by Chris Higgins on Jamie Masson.
The normally reliable Megginson took the kick but this time he blasted his effort high over the crossbar.
Denholm’s red card was dished out in the 37th minute, after he made a poor tackle on Megginson 30 yards out from the East Fife goal.
There was no doubt it was the right decision – and we made the extra man pay immediately by taking the lead from the resulting free-kick.
Semple cleverly played a pass out to Scott Ross on the right and when he crossed the ball back in MEGGINSON cooly chested the ball home from the edge of the six yard box.
Long denied us again just before the interval when he made an excellent diving save from Masson’s shot from a tight angle on the right.
It should have been 2-0 to us a minute after the restart.
Megginson slipped a brilliant pass through to Semple and he somehow managed to steer his 10 yard shot across the face of the East Fife goal and wide with only Long to beat.
Masson then saw his 18-yard shot held by the keeper as we maintained the pressure.
Long also stretched to push Milne’s cross/shot from wide on the left over the crossbar before Megginson nodded just wide from another great right wing cross from Ross.
The pressure finally paid off when we went two up in the 58th minute.
McIntosh used his pace to get past the East Fife defence on the right and when his low cross eventually reached MEGGINSON he drilled a 10-yard shot into the net.
East Fife were gifted a lifeline within a minute when Scott Ross was short with a pass and Jack HAMILTON nipped in to score with a low shot from the edge of the area.
Ross tried to make amends with yet another fine right wing cross that Milne met at the far post to send a header just wide.
Ross kept at it though and his excellent use of the ball led to us going 3-1 up in the 73rd minute.
The full-back’s cross from the right reached Masson, who saw his shot from around the penalty spot blocked by the diving Long but McINTOSH pounced on the rebound to steer his shot into the net.
Any lingering hopes of East Fife recovering ended when they were reduced to nine men in the 78th minute, thanks to Dunsmore picking up his second booking of the game, for a foul on Scully.
Megginson was denied his hat-trick when Long dived full-length to push his 16-yard shot wide of his left post in the 82nd minute but we had already done more than enough to deserve all three points.
COVE RANGERS: McKenzie, Milne, Scully (Seb Ross 82), Scott Ross, Strachan, Yule, Megginson (McAllister 85), Masson, McIntosh, Higgins, Semple (Watson 75)
Subs: Livingstone, Brown, Graham, Demus.
EAST FIFE: Long, Murdoch, Dunlop (Watson 46), Higgins, Slattery, Agnew, Newton (Collins 68), Wallace (Watson 80), Denholm, Hamilton (Smith 80), Dunsmore
Subs: Hart, Swanson, McLaughlin.
Referee: Gavin Ross
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