The importance of tonight’s game against Airdrieonians is not lost on the Cove Rangers players. Reminders are not required.
The 1-1 draw between the two sides on Saturday offered no surprises or conclusions; both clubs giving little ground in their quest for promotion.
For Cove, victory would represent the next step on their journey. A foot further towards the Championship for a club which played its last Highland League game in April 2019.
Connor Scully has been there for every part of it. He has come through the system at Cove and been part of multiple Highland League title wins, plus numerous Scottish Cup games. Big games come thick and fast.
“It’s a massive game, but we’ll just prepare like any other game,” said Scully. “We’ve got some experienced players; we’ll prepare well and rest well for Tuesday.
“It’s one step at a time. There’s good professionalism and preparation at the club. We’ve taken everything in our stride and it just shows what Highland League clubs can do.”
Cove were winning League Two at a canter when last season was brought to a halt. The transition into the SPFL had appeared pretty much seamless.
League One has presented its own challenges – Cove faced full-time league opposition for the first time – but they have risen to them. The ambition of the club acts as motivation.
Airdrieonians have been stern challengers for them this season. They have drawn twice and each team has won one of the four matches between the sides.
“They had a good shape about them, sat in and countered us pretty well,” added Scully. “I think we’re probably disappointed not to score a couple more goals, but we’re still in the tie.”
Whoever advances from this game tonight will take on either Morton or Montrose in the final next week. Montrose, who sealed their play-off berth at the last possible moment by beating champions Partick Thistle, hold a 2-1 advantage going into their second leg. For Morton, dropping down to the third tier is a real possibility.
The final will also bring a much-needed tonic for whichever two clubs are involved. The SPFL announced last week the two legs had been pushed back to allow fans to attend both games.
A maximum of 500 spectators will be allowed in to watch; after a year of sitting behind computer screens watching social media updates and live streams, they can be present again to see their team in person.
“It’s a huge – it probably needed some fans on Saturday actually, just to give it a bit of a lift,” said Scully. “It’s a huge incentive for the club.
“I know a few season-ticket holders (who’d want to come), family and stuff, so it’d be exciting for them.
“But we’ve got a big game on Tuesday – we can only look to the next game.”