Sam Burnett was delighted to cap off his injury comeback with a starring role in Cove Rangers’ Highland League Cup triumph.
The Granite City outfit beat last season’s winners Formartine United 2-0 at Inverurie’s Harlaw Park in the showpiece.
Burnett netted the opener and played a major role in Mitch Megginson’s clinching second goal.
The midfielder spent 11 months on the sidelines due to a cruciate ligament injury sustained near the end of last season.
Burnett made his comeback last month, but was still a somewhat surprise starter in the League Cup final.
He said: “Maybe starting was a bit unexpected for me because I’ve only had a couple of appearances since I came back.
“It’s always good to be involved in any way in a cup final and the manager John Sheran put me in from the start so I’m grateful for that.
“And it’s always good to score in any game because I don’t get many but it’s great to do it in a cup final.
“I was out for a while so to be back involved makes me happy.
“I managed to be involved in the semi-final against Wick so it was pleasing to make the final and get a goal and a winners’ medal.
“My injury was to the cruciate ligament in my left knee and I was out for about 11 months.
“I’ve managed to come back at the right time and it was great to play a part in winning the cup.”
Once Cove had the lead it was difficult for Formartine to threaten a comeback and Burnett was pleased with the way they defended, but were also clinical in attack.
He added: “It’s a great feeling to win any cup, but especially the League Cup so it was a great day for us.
“In terms of the performance we maybe didn’t get too many chances but when we got a couple in the first half we took them.
“I thought the defence were brilliant because they didn’t give Formartine many chances.
“And we took the chances we got, which is always important in a cup final.”
After a quiet opening the Pitmedden side threatened on 19 minutes when Garry Wood beat Ryan Strachan down the right, but his low ball across the six-yard box just evaded Aaron Norris.
At the other end Megginson had a shot held by goalie Kevin Main at the near post and Blair Yule pulled an effort wide from 18 yards.
In the 25th minute Formartine felt they should have had a penalty. Norris’ corner from the right was met by Jonny Crawford at the back post.
His header was scrambled off the goal line by Daniel Park, who appeared to use his hand to help clear the ball.
United players and fans called for a spot-kick, but referee Graham Beaton was unmoved.
After Main had held another Megginson effort Cove took the lead on 33 minutes.
Connor Scully lifted a delightful ball into the area for BURNETT, who was in behind. The midfielder produced a brilliant finish to lob the advancing Main from eight yards.
Formartine responded with Craig McKeown’s 25-yard free-kick parried away by goalie Stuart McKenzie, but in the second minute of first half stoppage time Cove made it two.
Burnett’s shot from just inside the box was spilled by Main and MEGGINSON knocked home the rebound from six yards.
Formartine needed the next goal if they were to make a comeback, but they struggled to create clear chances in the second period.
Graeme Rodger’s fizzing 15-yard volley was just over on 64 minutes and United felt Rodger should have had a penalty in the closing stages after he was impeded.
Formartine captain Stuart Anderson said: “It’s disappointing because it’s never nice to lose a final.
“It would be easy for us to blame the ref, but I thought we had a good first half, but lost poor goals.
“The second goal maybe killed the game – but there were two stonewall penalties not given.
“Whether that makes a difference to the result we don’t know, but as players we have a job to do and so do the officials.
“It’s a big game and you need a strong ref and I don’t think we got that. Cove are a good side and I think they will go on to get promoted to League Two.
“We have to strive for that level, the squad they’ve got is of SPFL standard. We are disappointed but we just have to move on.”