Scott Ross has warned the rest of the Highland League that Cove Rangers can get even better after beating Formartine United 2-0.
The champions’ victory at the Balmoral Stadium on Saturday made it nine wins from nine in their defence of the crown.
While pleased with how they’ve been performing, Ross reckons the Granite City side can still improve.
The defender said: “We had quite a tough start with Fraserburgh and Buckie early on and now Formartine.
“Nine wins out of nine is great and, hopefully, we can continue it.
“There is more to come because the last couple of weeks we’ve been below par and on Saturday we upped it a gear and played a lot better so there’s more to come from us.
“It was quite comfortable suprisingly with us having played 120 minutes last Wednesday and Formartine not having a game.
“I thought they might have put us under more pressure, but we stood up to it well and countered on them.
“We had to defend at times and then the boys up front are always a threat and we will always create chances and score goals.”
Cove boss John Sheran added: “It’s three points and it’s always nice when it’s against one of your rivals.
“It was a big game and the boys rose to the occasion. It’s been a tremendous start but it is just a start and we need to kick on again.”
Sheran also praised keeper Stuart McKenzie for saving Graeme Rodger’s penalty – given for handball – with the score at 2-0.
He added: “Stuart’s saved penalties for a lot of years and you always feel he’s capable of doing that.
“I didn’t think it was a penalty because Harry Milne’s hand was behind his back. But Stuart’s save was really important.”
Early on United keeper Kevin Main tipped a low Mitch Megginson drive wide, but the opener arrived for Cove on 21 minutes. Megginson robbed Jevan Anderson and tried to shoot.
His shot was blocked, the ball broke to Paul McManus – who couldn’t get his effort away – and bounced to Harry MILNE eight yards out at the back post to finish with his left foot.
Formartine should have been level on 38 minutes when Ross was short with a back-pass. Garry Wood went round goalie McKenzie, but Eric Watson slid in and made a goal-saving challenge.
On 58 minutes, it was 2-0. Megginson’s shot was deflected to Daniel Park on the right of the area, he back-heeled across the six-yard area and McMANUS tapped home.
Ten minutes later Milne was sent off by ref Greg Soutar for appearing to block Ryan Stott’s shot with a hand. Soutar deemed it a clear goal-scoring opportunity and flashed the red card and gave a penalty.
Rodger took it for Formartine, who missed four penalties in the shootout the previous week against Coleraine, and McKenzie saved with his legs. In the closing stages United also lost defender Craig McKeown to a suspected ankle injury.
Assistant manager Russell Anderson said: “We were beaten by the better team and can have no complaints. In saying that we had a couple of reasonable chances at big times in the game to get back into it.
“We’re conceding too many soft goals and not scoring at important points in the game.”