Cove Rangers striker Mitch Megginson says they must learn to become more “streetwise” after losing 2-1 to Junior side Auchinleck Talbot in the Scottish Cup.
The Highland League champions were denied a visit to Fraserburgh in the third round when they were out-muscled, as opposed to out-played, by their Ayrshire hosts at Beechwood Park.
Megginson, who scored Cove’s goal from a second-half penalty, felt the match was similar to last season’s promotion play-off, which they lost 3-2 after failing to handle the aggressive approach of League Two opponents Cowdenbeath down at Central Park.
The former Aberdeen player believes it’s vital they find ways of showing they can fight as well as play football in case they make the play-offs again at the end of this season.
Megginson said: “These are the sort of games we need to win if we ever want to compete at higher levels.
“The way we lost to Auchinleck was almost a copy of what happened to us down at Cowdenbeath. They didn’t play better football than us, they were just more aggressive and didn’t care how they went about knocking us out of our stride.
“We are going to have to show we can stand up for ourselves better if that ever happens again. I include myself in that.
“That’s twice it has happened to us in the space of a few months, so we really should have known what to expect and handled it better.
“I’ve had even more experience of it than some of the other lads because I’ve played in a good few matches like those last two when I was in the SPFL.
“No matter the level, the teams down south just seem to be more streetwise than we are at times.
“If we are lucky enough to make the play-offs again we are going to have to show lessons have been finally learned if we want to avoid losing again.”
Cove had fallen behind to a first-half strike by Stephen Wilson before Megginson’s 21st goal of the season brought them level.
Slack defending then saw the Scottish Junior Cup holders regain the lead through Calvin Kemp midway through the second period.
Despite never being at their very best, Cove almost snatched a last-gasp equaliser when a Blair Yule shot rebounded to safety off one of the Talbot posts, with the home keeper well beaten.
Referee Chris Fordyce also brushed aside two late penalty claims by Cove, one of them for a tug on substitute Jordan McRae as he prepared to pull the trigger.