League One / Balmoral Stadium / Attendance:
Sat 23 Dec 23 / 15:00

Cove Rangers




Edinburgh City



Cove Rangers romped to victory on a bizarre afternoon during which the team could easily have scored even more goals but might have trailed 2-1 in the first half; Nick Suman twice coming to the rescue and saving a penalty.

The win was however richly deserved, the side playing some outstanding football as they bounced back strongly from last week’s disappointment. Rumarn Burrell, Blair Yule and substitute Kyle Connell all netted doubles, and Connor Scully headed his first goal on home turf for over a year.

The game would not have taken place but for staff and volunteers spending hours clearing snow off the pitch. Referee Ross Hardie delayed kick-off by half an hour to allow the work to be completed, after a plough was brought in to finish the job.

With Fraser Fyvie, Balint Demus and Luke Strachan all out injured, and Josh Kerr suspended, Paul Hartley was also without experienced midfielder Paul McGowan, who was suffering from a sickness bug. Mark Gallagher stepped in for his first league start since the opening day of the campaign.

Edinburgh kicked-off with the sleet blowing across the pitch, but it was not long before Cove took a grip on proceedings. Yule and Gallagher were prominent in the early exchanges and the latter had a twenty yard effort blocked by an already hard pressed visiting defence.

The breakthrough came soon after. Gallagher played an inch perfect pass through for Rumarn BURRELL and the striker showed great composure as he rounded McNeil to roll home the opener.

Almost immediately, Edinburgh were level with a freak goal. From a free-kick wide right and some forty yards out, Robbie MAHON fired in a delivery which beat everyone, skidded on the sodden surface, and flew inside the far post.

There followed a succession of Cove chances.

Burrell had a ten yard effort blocked, Scully just failed to connect with an inviting Yule cross, then from a Doyle delivery Rumarn got the ball stuck under his feet at the back post and it was hacked to safety.

The team were putting together some superb passing moves and with twenty minutes gone, Megginson rolled in an excellent pass behind the back line. Connor Scully ran on to it, but with just the keeper to beat, shot wide of the left post.

From another flowing move, Burrell headed home from a pinpoint Doyle cross, but had strayed just offside.

A succession of corners came to nothing and then, out of nowhere, City might have snatched the lead. Mark Reynolds’ pass was intercepted by Mahon who sped goalwards, his low drive brilliantly pushed behind by Nick Suman. And within seconds the big Aussie was again called into action. Will Gillingham tugged Fisher to the ground in the box and referee Hardie pointed to the spot. Offord’s penalty was low and well struck, but Nick dived to his right and held the ball.

Cameron Stewart was brought on to replace Gillingham, then Cove came close again, Scully’s diving header flying over the bar.

We did finally regain the lead in first half stoppage time following more excellent build-up play. Yule and Doyle exchanged passes, Rumarn BURRELL then laid the ball off, and when Blair’s low cross was half-cleared, the striker was there to net his eighteenth of the season from ten yards.

Cove started strongly after the interval, Burrell having a shot deflected over then Scully heading just wide at the back post. The third eventually came soon after.

Burrell put Ewen under pressure, snatched the ball from the defender and raced towards the bye-line. His cut back ran perfectly into the path of Blair YULE and the midfielder’s shot squirmed under the keeper’s body.

It was attack after attack now, Edinburgh defending desperately as they held us at bay. Megginson had one shot saved and another bounced just wide, then out of the blue the visitors were back in it.

Mercer cut in and drove forward before unleashing a powerful shot which Ouzy SEE appeared to get a slight touch on to divert past Suman.

Mitch Megginson was again denied by McNeil who turned his powerful shot behind for a corner, but we restored our two goal advantage in the seventy-first minute. Cameron Stewart pinged a superb fifty yard pass for Burrell to run on to and the striker squared for Blair YULE to hammer home his second of the game.

Brodie Devine, booked twice in four minutes for fouls on Burrell, was sent off, and down to ten men, Edinburgh faced an even tougher task. The beleaguered visitors were overrun in the closing stages as Cove ran riot.

Scully had a shot blocked and Tyler Mykyta one saved before both were involved as we made it 5-2. From Mykyta’s pass, Burrell cut the ball back from the bye-line and Kyle CONNELL gleefully pounced to net his first league goal of the season.

The pressure was incessant, the players maintaining their high standards on the day, and Mykyta – who made a big impact as a late substitute – fed Yule to set up another opening. Yule lifted his cross to the back post and Connor SCULLY rose highest to cleverly loop his header back over McNeil and into the net.

There was to be one more goal, Cove netting seven for just the second time since joining the SPFL in 2019, emulating the feat last achieved in a 7-1 win at Stirling in the final match played before the COVID shutdown in March 2020.

Sena, who once again impressed in midfield, stole the ball deep in the Edinburgh half and rolled it forward for Kyle CONNELL to finish in convincing fashion.

It was the perfect outcome to what was a somewhat bizarre day which began with the possibility the game might not go ahead, and with twenty people shovelling snow from what had been an unplayable surface. Their hard work was repaid, and the team ensured a Merry Christmas for all at Cove Rangers with a top class display, one which sets them up nicely for what will be a demanding period over the next few weeks.

COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): Suman; Doyle (Darge 69), Gillingham (Stewart 42), Reynolds, Jones; Yule, Sena, Gallagher (Connell 77), Scully; Megginson (c) (Mykyta 77), Burrell

Substitutes: Robertson, Williamson

Goalscorers: Burrell (6, 45), Yule (50, 71), Connell (85, 90), Scully (89)

Booked: Sena (85)

EDINBURGH CITY (4-4-1-1): McNeil; Devine, Mercer, Fontaine (c) (Omojiade 54), Ewen; Pitt (MacNamara 46), Mahon, Leitch, Offord (Sambou 65); See (Anuka 77), Fisher (Peter 46)

Substitutes: Robertson, Khan, Mair, Conafrey

Goalscorers: Mahon (7), See (65)

Booked: Devine (76)

Sent Off: Devine (80)

Referee: Ross Hardie

Attendance: 521

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