Both John Sheran and Paul Lawson know early season silverware success in the Aberdeenshire Cup could set the tone for the rest of the campaign.
Sheran’s Cove Rangers meet Lawson’s Formartine United in the final of the competition at Balmoor Stadium, Peterhead, tomorrow (3pm).
Cove sit unbeaten at the top of the Highland League at the moment – their only loss so far was to Northern Irish side Crusaders in the Irn-Bru Cup.
They have scored more than 80 goals already in all competitions and are yet to concede a goal in this season’s Shire Cup.
Sheran said: “It’s always nice to get to a cup final and have the opportunity to win a trophy so early in the season.
“We’re looking forward to it, and we’ve had a good run up to this point.
“You’ve got two of the form teams in the league going head to head, so it should be a good game.
“There’s an element of feeling that we missed an opportunity last year being 2-0 ahead (where Cove lost on penalties to Buckie Thistle).
“But cup finals are funny things and you just never know
“There’s an element of wanting to get back there and trying to win it.
“We did win some silverware last year, but we want to win the Aberdeenshire Cup.
“It’s not one that we’ve traditionally done well in over the years, so it would be good to get a win.”
For player-manager Lawson, who took over at North Lodge Park following Kris Hunter’s departure in mid-September, he knows it’s the chance to get his fledgling career as gaffer off to a flyer.
He said: “To win any trophy would be nice and the opportunity has come round pretty early (in my managerial career).
“It would be a great start but we’re under no illusions about the task ahead.
”It was nice to get back to winning ways but we’re facing a different beast this weekend and they’re definitely the team that’s firing on all cylinders, and have been all season.
“I’ve said before that, if anyone does finish above them, they’ll win the league.
“It’s going to be very difficult but we have to look forward to it.”
United sit fifth in the table and have won five of Lawson’s seven games in charge.
One of the defeats was a 4-0 loss at home to Sheran’s men, after which the Pitmedden side’s boss was full of praise for Cove.
Lawson, whose team haven’t won the cup – the world’s second oldest association football trophy – since 2013-14, said: “Obviously with the last game, there were aspects we could have done better.
“But full credit to Cove and the way they played on the day – they were excellent and we couldn’t really get near them.
“It’s something we need to look at. We’ll be working on things to try to stop them.
“At the same time we need to play our own game as well. We’ve scored a few goals ourselves, so we’re not worried on that side.
“We’re well aware of their abilities and we need to be wary. Against the likes of Cove, they’ll punish you for little mistakes, so we need to make sure we keep them to a minimum.”
Cove haven’t lifted the Aberdeenshire Cup since 2010-11 and Sheran has never won the competition as a manager.
However, he insists any glory tomorrow will belong to the players and fans, not himself.
He said: “It’s not something I really think about, winning these games is about the supporters and the players.
“They’re the ones who put in the effort to do it.
“After three games, it’s a nice reward to get to the final and it’s the same for Formartine.
“They had a fantastic result against Fraserburgh in the semi-final.
“They are one of the form teams in the league and we are expecting it to be our toughest game of the season.
“We’ve maybe been giving away one or two goals more in the last couple of games than I would have liked.
“It’s important to get a combination of the two things – you’re solid at the back and you take your chances as they come.”
Both managers have full squads to choose from ahead of the Blue Toon showpiece, with Jonny Smith and Nick Gray back from injury for Cove, while Formartine have seen experienced players Jonathan Crawford, Scott Henry, Craig McKeown and Garry Wood return to fitness in recent weeks.