BRORA RANGERS 1–3 COVE RANGERS (AET)
The side secured a fifth round Scottish Cup meeting with Kilmarnock, coming from behind to secure the victory over battling Brora. The home side took an early lead, but Mitch Megginson levelled, then gave us a deserved lead in extra-time. Connor Scully’s well-struck third goal was the icing on the cake.
With recent signings Matty Shiels and Ola Lawal both ineligible, having already played in the competition, and Fraser Fyvie still sidelined by injury, Paul Hartley made three changes from the weekend.
Michael Doyle returned from suspension at right back with Arron Darge moving across to the left, Josh Kerr was in to partner Mark Reynolds, and Paul McGowan took his place behind the front two. Cameron Stewart dropped down to the bench.
Having twice seen the tie postponed, the Brora groundstaff had done a fine job over the weekend, and while it might not have been perfect, the surface was at least flat, and certainly playable, as the game got underway.
Cove had plenty of the ball early on and were the first to threaten, Paul McGowan upended as he looked to find a way through. Josh Kerr stepped-up to take the free-kick, but his optimistic effort from thirty-five yards flew over the bar.
We then put together a fine move down the left which ended when Scully’s cutback was intercepted by Williamson on the edge of the six yard box.
But it was the home side who took the lead in the thirteenth minute against the run of play. Having seen off their initial attack, we gave the ball away just outside the area and Jordan MacRae pounced on it. His pass was inch-perfect, and Tony DINGWALL ran on to it to roll the ball through Suman’s legs.
We might have been level soon after. An excellent move involving McGowan and Yule set Doyle free down the right. Mikey stood up an inviting cross to the back post which was met powerfully first time by Connor Scully. His volley looked to be flying into the net, but Logan Ross pulled off a superb one-handed save to deny the midfielder.
The equaliser came in twenty-second minute. Rumarn Burrell was the provider, teasing Williamson in the box before clipping the ball across the area where Mitch MEGGINSON bundled it in from close range.
Brora were then awarded a free-kick wide on the left, Doyle being harshly booked for his challenge on Ewan, and they came close to regaining the lead. Dingwall’s inswinging delivery was met by Nicolson, his flick bouncing inches wide.
In what had become an open game, we might have gone in front in our next attack. Scully whipped in a corner from the left, and as the ball fell, Megginson got a touch, but could not divert it past the keeper. There was another opportunity almost immediately, after Burrell chased a bouncing ball into the box. His effort was blocked before Nicolson hacked clear with Megginson closing in.
We came even closer in the thirty-fourth minute from another Scully corner, this time from the right. Mark Reynolds flicked goalwards, and when keeper Ross got a touch, the ball looked to be heading into the net only for Williamson to head it over his own bar.
We kept up the pressure and Burrell danced into the box with a skilful run along the bye-line before squaring the ball. Scully ran on to it, his effort blocked by Nicolson.
Brora were handed an opportunity straight after the resumption when MacRae challenged Kerr and the ball broke for Wallace, but his twenty yard effort was straight at Suman.
Cove were quickly back up the pitch, and after good link-up play down the right, Blair Yule had a shot blocked. Sena was first to react, taking possession then running forcefully into the box before shooting from fifteen yards. Keeper Ross dived to his right to scramble the ball for a corner.
We then earned a free-kick twenty yards out on the left. Scully was the decoy, allowing Josh Kerr to curl a superb effort round the wall. The ball looked destined for the bottom corner, but Ross got his left hand to it to concede another corner.
It was all Cove at this stage and Mitch Megginson created space for himself just outside the area, his fine snap shot skimming the crossbar as it flew just over.
Brora relieved the pressure with a quick counter-attack, MacLean letting rip from twenty yards, but McGowan was able to divert the ball to safety.
After a quieter spell, the players stepped up the tempo again, the home side having to defend desperately on occasion to keep us out, and Arron Darge almost found a way through in the seventy-fifth minute, his first-time effort from the edge of the box flying just wide of the left post.
As the game moved into its later stages, we came agonisingly close to snatching the lead when Darge chipped a pass over the top for Burrell to run on to. Rumarn could not find a way through, so rolled the ball wide for Yule, and when Blair delivered from the right, Paul McGowan met it first time, his shot inches past the far post.
The manager introduced Kyle Connell for McGowan, and the substitute’s first act was to swing in a corner which might have flown straight into the net but for Nicolson’s intervention at the back post.
We had one last chance in regulation time, Doyle crossing from the right, but Connell’s shot was high over the bar.
It was fully eleven minutes into extra-time before either side seriously threatened, and Cove should have secured the lead. Connor Scully switched a superb angled pass over the top for Yule to chase down, and Blair’s cross was inch-perfect, but Burrell took a touch rather than shoot first time, and with the keeper closing him down, could only stab the ball wide of the post.
The goal came on the stroke of half-time. Connell shaped up for one of his long throws, but caught the home side out by taking it short to Doyle. Mikey rolled it back to him, Reynolds failed to connect with the cross at the near post, but Mitch MEGGINSON gathered, turned, and smashed the ball into the net.
Megginson and Burrell were causing constant problems for the Brora defence and our latest attack ended with Connell shooting well over from distance.
The striker was then upended, taking a high boot on the head from Gillespie thirty yards out. Megginson took the free-kick, cleverly playing a low ball into the box, and Connor SCULLY ran on to it to blast his angled shot beyond Ross.
It was the perfect end to a long night, the side deserving of the victory despite being taken to extra-time.
BRORA RANGERS (4-2-3-1): Ross; Kelly, Williamson, Nicolson, Cooper; MacLean, Sutherland (MacLeod 108); Dingwall, Wallace (Gillespie 73), Ewan (Brindle 82); MacRae (c)
Substitutes: Malin, Hardie, MacDonald, Strachan
Goalscorers: Dingwall (13)
Booked: Nicolson (16), MacRae (90), Dingwall (95)
COVE RANGERS (4-3-1-2): Suman; Doyle, Kerr Reynolds, Darge; Yule, Sena, Scully; McGowan (Connell 82); Burrell, Megginson (c)
Substitutes: Robertson, Jones, Gillingham, Stewart
Goalscorers: Megginson (22, 105), Scully (120)
Booked: Doyle (24), Sena (64)
Referee: Colin Whyte
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