Cove Rangers will be hopeful of reaching the SPFL play-off final for the second season in a row after beating East Kilbride 2-1 in their semi-final first leg at K Park.
The Granite City side – without boss John Sheran, who is recovering from a heart attack last weekend – got off to a fantastic start away from home, left-back Harry Milne’s towering header from a Dan Park corner giving keeper William Muir no chance on three minutes.
Cove looked hungrier than Kilby from the first whistle and both strikers, Mitch Megginson and Martin Scott, plus the four midfielders, were pressing ferociously and forcing mistakes.
However, the home side could’ve been level 10 minutes in. In a rare off-moment for Cove. Paul Woods danced from halfway past centre-midfielder Connor Scully and centre-back Ryan Strachan, his shot from just inside the area sent wide by keeper Stuart McKenzie’s right boot.
Still, the visitors were in charge and doubled their lead on 35 minutes. It was another Park corner from the left, but this time nodded across goal and in from centre-half Scott Ross, who’d taken up a position near the back post.
After the break, winger Jamie Masson and full-back Scott Stevenson both had early chances for their respective teams.
On 54 minutes, Milne headed another Park cross – the winger was on scintillating form – on to the Kilby bar as Cove chased a third.
The other scorer, Ross, then headed wide, before – on 69 minutes – a Masson effort after a cross-field passing move was blocked on the line by Kilby centre-back Craig Howie.
For a long spell, East Kilbride looked a beaten team, but a cross-cum-shot on 76 minutes from Bernard Coll – cleared off the line – and a saved long range effort from substitute Jamie Longworth revitalised the home side and their supporters.
Cove had to show grit to protect their advantage for the Aberdeen leg of the semi, however, moments before full-time Longworth fired into the far corner right-footed from the edge of the area to give Kilby hope heading to the Balmoral Stadium next Saturday.