Cove Rangers skipper Mitch Megginson says this weekend’s opponents Alloa Athletic are a reminder of how far the Aberdeen side have progressed in recent years.
Striker Megginson has had two stints at Alloa. He left the Wasps for the second time when they were relegated from the Championship in summer 2016 to join then-Highland League hometown team Cove.
Since then, Alloa have been promoted back to the second tier before dropping down to League One again at the end of last season. Cove and their talismanic 29-year-old forward, meanwhile, won promotion to the SPFL in 2019, then claimed the League Two title the following season, before narrowly missing out on elevation to the Championship themselves last term.
Megginson’s last two clubs meeting on league business is a striking reminder of Cove’s achievements for the former Dons youngster, who said: “That was the last club I played for before coming back up the road, and I’d been on loan from Aberdeen (in season 2012/13) as well – so I’ve had a couple of stints at Alloa.
“I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about them. It was a good club, with good people behind the scenes, a good team as well. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
“When I left and came to Cove we drew them in the Betfred Cup and played them when Jack Ross was manager. They’d been relegated at that point and they were trying to get back up – and they battered us 3-0.
“I think it shows you how far we’ve come from when I joined Cove to now in a short space of time. We’re competing at the same level and we’re going to go there to try to get three points.
“That was always the aim when I joined – to be competing with teams like Alloa, who’ve been in the Championship and will be trying to get there as well.
“We’re moving in the right direction, that’s certainly the case for Cove as a club. We’re now going to play teams who’ve been in the Championship for numerous years and going to outplay them and beat them. It’s testament to the players, staff and Cove as a whole, where we’ve brought the club.”
Forward Kevin Cawley is the only current Alloa player who Megginson played with in his time at Recreation Park – and that was during his loan from Aberdeen almost a decade ago.
However, he’s expecting a tough task when third meet fifth on Saturday, with Cove, on 14 points, only three points better off than their hosts.
While their is a contrast between the clubs’ direction of travel in recent campaigns, there is a parallel in the dugouts – Cove are bossed by former Hearts, Celtic and Scotland midfielder Paul Hartley, while former Rangers and Scotland captain Barry Ferguson left Kelty Hearts for Alloa in the summer.
Megginson said: “With their experience alone, of playing at the highest level, it makes a difference.
“They both were very successful players in terms of winning trophies.
“I’m sure Ferguson will be passing that experience down to the players in the same way the gaffer does at Cove.
“It can only be beneficial when you’re working under someone who has been so successful in their own career.”
Balmoral outfit on four-game streak
Cove are on a four-game unbeaten run in League One, beating another full-time outfit, Airdrieonians, 1-0 at the Balmoral Stadium on their last outing.
It was a hard-fought victory, with Megginson’s assessment both teams “cancelled each other out” on a windy afternoon.
The prolific attacker, who is on four goals in the league after eight rounds of fixtures, thinks Cove’s performances can improve, although they are picking up all-important points in a “very competitive division”.
He added: “We’re finding ways to get results on the board – at a time where we’re still working on gelling as a team.
“If you can pick up results when you’re not quite at your best – and we know we can play better – that’s a good thing.
“Our performances can only pick up. It’s something we’re working on and hopefully it’ll be soon.”
On the strength of what is a very tight League One so far this term, Megginson said: “In terms of opposition at the start, and we suffered from this ourselves, teams maybe weren’t at their fullest or people were still isolating at times, which was maybe not giving a true squad reflection of certain teams.
“I still think it’s coming to that stage where it will settle out and you’ll see a split between teams.
“But I was just saying to the boys last night, every week you look at the next game and it’s a tough fixture. You don’t get an easy game in this league and it’s one after another.
“And because there’s only 10 teams in the league, you play everyone in a short period of time, it is very competitive and probably the most competitive league I’ve played in in my time playing football – just because of the quality of teams in the division.”