Evening Express

Cove’s McManus holds on to positives as Hearts challenge next in Betfred Cup

Inverness' Nathan Austin holds off Cove's Blair Yule

Paul McManus is taking the positives from Cove Rangers’ League Cup defeat to Inverness Caley Thistle.

The Highland League champions performed well in their 2-0 loss to the Jags in Inverness.

Things don’t get any easier for the Granite City team in the League Cup group stage with Hearts visiting the Balmoral Stadium on Wednesday night.

Striker McManus said: “I think we worked hard enough, but the goals we lost were poor.

“They took their chances and I think it was quite comfortable for them in the end.

“But we did have chances as well and on another day we could have put some of them away – but we acquitted ourselves really well. We’ve got a big game on Wednesday against Hearts.

“They’ve had us watched a few times so we’ll take our fitness into Wednesday and hopefully we’ll improve again.

“There are positives to take and we’re not expected to go to places like Inverness and win games.

“We’re lucky enough to be in the competition as a Highland League club. We look at it as a positive thing at the start of the season.”

Hearts manager Craig Levein watching the game

Cove boss John Sheran added: “I think we played really well, we worked hard and our shape was good.

“We had one or two little sniffs and if they go in it’s a different story.

“We had a good chance just before the second goal, but we’re happy with the work-out.

“It’s still part of our pre-season and we’ll look to kick on into Wednesday.

“We’ve got one or two players to come back in but I think the guys who were there did well and didn’t let themselves down. It was a good performance.”

Cove came close on 16 minutes when Connor Scully’s free-kick from the right was met by Harry Milne, but his header was straight at goalie Mark Ridgers.

Caley threatened sporadically with keeper Stuart McKenzie making a couple of saves from George Oakley.

But on the 30-minute mark the Championship side did net.

Aaron Doran released Oakley on the left side of the area and he squared the ball for Nathan AUSTIN to score.

Austin missed a great chance five minutes later when he robbed Harry Milne and galloped through on goal but McKenzie grabbed the ball after a heavy touch.

Four minutes from half-time Caley had a second when Shaun Rooney sent Liam Polworth in behind and he squared to AUSTIN to roll in the second.

Midway through the second half McManus forced a good save from Ridgers with a strike from the edge of the area.

Late on McKenzie made a fine double save to thwart sub Tom Walsh and Aaron Doran and Caley sub Jordan White headed on to the crossbar.