The fact it is all hands to the pump at Cove Rangers just now might actually help Jamie Masson in his push for fitness.
With just one fit outfield substitute available, Masson was left on for the full 90 minutes in their SPFL Trust Trophy win over Stenhousemuir.
It was the first time since March he has completed 90 minutes and perhaps came ahead of schedule, given he only had three cameo appearances since making his return from a long-term ankle injury last month.
Cove squeaked through on Saturday afternoon, winning 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw with Stenny at the Balmoral Stadium.
Robbie Leitch was their only outfield substitute fit enough to come on – Harry Milne and Ryan Strachan have been struggling with illness – and when he replaced Leighton McIntosh, Masson knew he would have had to grind out a full 90 minutes.
He said: “As you can see we’re short for subs but I think you just need to grind it out once you’re getting up and down the pitch. You don’t really think about it until you get off the pitch.
“I’ve had 10, 10 and half-an-hour, so a 90 will do me good. Every training session I’m feeling sharper.
“It’s been about five months since I did it, so probably another week or two of training going to the gym, doing the best I can, and I should be there.
“Harry is just back and Strachs has got a bit of flu. Robbie came on, so I thought I’d got to get through it and put my head down.
“I think once all the boys are back we’ll get up and running but it’s tough when you’re short on numbers”.
Shay Logan had been out with Covid-19 but was able to return, while Fraser Fyvie was also involved after missing out against Clyde.
But just as they get bodies back, more seem to drop out. Jevan Anderson joined Ross Draper on the sidelines after limping off at Broadwood, while Iain Vigurs did not join up with the squad on Saturday due to illness.
It was a disjointed Cove performance and they were far from their fluent best, which has eluded them for most of the season.
A half-chance from Leighton McIntosh was the best they could muster in the first period, with lowly Stenny having the better of the play.
Cameron Graham flashed a chance wide, while both Thomas Orr and Ross Forbes hit the frame of the Cove goal.
Orr and Ryan Tierney had chances to break the deadlock, while at the opposite end Rory McAllister and Mitch Megginson went close for the home side.
It was left to penalties, with Forbes crashing his effort against the bar and the recalled Stuart McKenzie keeping out Ross Lyon’s spot-kick.
McAllister, Blair Yule, Leitch and Megginson all scored from 12 yards, to ensure a third round tie against Albion Rovers in Aberdeen next month.
Masson added: “It wasn’t a performance we usually put in – I thought we should have knocked it about a bit more. But the main thing is we’re through to the next round.
“We’ve got Albion Rovers here which will be another tough test but hopefully we can have a good run in the cup, see where it takes us.
“You’re playing against teams in the same leagues as you. But the main thing is next week – the league is the main thing and we need to get back to winning ways.”
COVE RANGERS (4-2-3-1) – McKenzie 6; Logan 6, Neill 5, Scully 6, Fyvie 7, Yule 6, McIntosh 6 (Leitch 68), Megginson 6, Masson 6, McAllister 5. Subs not used – Gourlay, Milne, Strachan,
STENHOUSEMUIR (4-4-1-1) – Wilson 7; Lyon 6, Jamieson 6, Corbett 6, Coll 5, Forbes 6, Anderson 6 (Brown 90), Miller 5 (Wedderburn 68), Graham 6 (O’Reilly 61), Thomson 6 (Tierney 61), Orr 6. Subs not used – Marshall.
Referee – Barry Cook 5
Attendance – 324
Man of the match – David Wilson