Cove Rangers defender Ross Graham feels his side’s two Betfred Cup outings have prepared Paul Hartley’s men for tomorrow’s League One opener at home to East Fife.
After running Premiership side Hibernian close in a narrow 2-1 home defeat on Saturday, Cove were held to a 2-2 draw by Highland League champions Brora Rangers on Wednesday, before going on to claim the bonus point with a 6-5 penalty shootout victory.
Hartley opted to ring the changes for the trip to Dudgeon Park, with Rory McAllister, Jamie Semple, Tom Leighton, Broque Watson and Jordon Brown drafted in from the side which went down to Hibs.
Skipper Mitch Megginson and midfielder Jamie Masson were not part of the travelling squad, while Blair Yule, Leighton McIntosh and Scott Ross were on the bench.
Although Cove could not hold on to a two-goal lead to claim the victory, Graham feels his side will benefit from the tests they have faced when they come up against Darren Young’s Fifers this weekend.
Graham said: “It has been two completely different games.
“On Saturday, against Hibs, the ball was on the deck more.
“Brora turned it into a battle on Wednesday which suited them – it didn’t really suit us and we didn’t really get playing like we could have in the second half. I don’t think we really coped with the conditions.
“We will take it into Saturday and try to kick on from this. We will need to learn how to win dirty because games can be like that sometimes.”
Graham has joined Cove on a season-long loan from Dundee United, with the 19-year-old starting in both cup matches so far.
Having spent part of last season on loan with League Two side Elgin City before the season was cut short due to coronavirus, Graham is ready to test himself at a higher level this term.
He added: “I have loved coming in and playing the two games so far. The boys have been great and really made me feel at home.
“Being a young player, I just need to get out and play the men’s game, and learn the trade in the lower leagues. Hopefully I can take that back to United.
“They have just told me to learn to play against different strikers and different systems, which I’ll come up against in the lower leagues.”
Cove’s bonus point means the Aberdeen outfit have taken two points from their opening two fixtures in Betfred Cup Group B.
Cove will now play four league fixtures before they complete the section with games away to Dundee and at home to Forfar Athletic next month.
Graham was disappointed his side did not add to their tally against the Cattachs, and has called for a more ruthless edge.
Graham added: “The extra point is a bonus, but it’s not quite the win.”