Cove Rangers defender Ryan Strachan believes his side will have to learn to be patient after Annan proved one of their most awkward afternoons at Balmoral Stadium this season.
Peter Murphy’s side restricted the space for Cove to play in during a competitive encounter, but goals from Mitch Megginson and Jamie Masson gave Paul Hartley’s side a deserved 2-0 win which keeps the Highland League leaders five points clear of rivals Edinburgh City at the top of League 2.
It was far from pretty, with Hartley acknowledging the challenges resilient and stubborn Annan provided his players, but Strachan believes afternoons like Saturday’s could become more frequent as teams try to stop Cove’s incredible 100% winning home record in their debut campaign in the league.
He said: “Every win is important especially at this stage of the season. We’re into the second half of the season now and we’re still five points ahead of Edinburgh, but they keep winning so every game is important.
“We’ve won the game and we’ve been strong at home all season which is what we wanted, but this is the first team we’ve faced here which has set up almost without a striker.
“If that is going to happen again we’re going to have to work on being patient and playing against a team with so many defenders in front of us.”
Annan’s hopes of getting something from the game were eventually thwarted five minutes from time when Strachan surged forward before playing a terrific through ball to set up Masson for the second goal and he believes he and defensive partner Scott Ross are willing to play creative roles if called upon in the remaining games.
He said: “We know from this season and last year in the Highland League how important it is to be strong at home.
“It suits us if teams just want to come and sit, but we still have to be creative and if it takes a centre-half to step forward and make that extra man in midfield both me and Scott are happy to do that.”
Cove nearly opened the scoring when Masson found Rory McAllister in the box, but Lyle Avci did well to save the Cove forward’s effort before smothering the rebound before Josh Mulligan could pounce.
Annan immediately swept forward with Christian Nade’s thunderous effort rebounding off the crossbar into the path of Broque Watson, but with the goal gaping he fired over the crossbar.
Cove’s perseverance eventually paid off midway through the first half when Harry Milne found Mitch Megginson unmarked in the six-yard box and the Cove captain sidefooted the defender’s cross home to give his side the lead.
Cove hit the woodwork twice in the second half as they pushed for a two-goal cushion they craved with Mulligan seeing his effort deflected on to the crossbar before Masson rattled the bar with a fierce first-time strike from the edge of the box. Masson wrapped up the points when he ran on to a fine Ryan Strachan through ball before guiding his effort into the net.