United face tough Cove task
North Lodge Park: Anderson ready for visit of undefeated league leaders
Formartine United are the latest Highland League club to try to stop the Cove Rangers juggernaut when the pair go head-to-head in a Highland League match at North Lodge Park this afternoon.
The nomadic Aberdonians are flying high, still undefeated at the top of the table having scored 47 goals and conceded just four in 10 matches. Fort William have been struggling this season but Buckie Thistle manager Graeme Stewart will take nothing for granted when the two sides meet at Victoria Park this afternoon.
The Highland League champions are strong favourites at home but Stewart knows it is folly to expect an easy day’s work.
He said: “Traditionally, we’ve always found it hard against Fort William. We have quite a few players
Experienced Formartine midfielder Stuart Anderson is well aware of the task facing him and his Pitmedden team-mates.
Anderson said: “They are flying and the players they have recruited, who have all played at a higher level, shows you their intention.
“We know a lot about Jamie Masson as he used to be here. We know just how good a player he is, so it will be a tough ask for us at North Lodge Park.
“However, all the pressure is on them to maintain their unbeaten record while out tomorrow, including attackers Chris Angus, Sam Urquhart and Stuart Taylor, as well as defender John Maitland. We’ll only have three guys on the bench, so we certainly won’t be taking them lightly.
“Before I took over we lost at home to Fort William and that was probably what cost my predecessor Gary Hake his job.”
Fort add experienced defender Andy Martin and Iain MacLellan to the trav- we are just finding our feet, as it were.
“We can relax going into this one as there’s absolutely no pressure on ourselves.
“If we get anything form the game it will be a bonus for us as no one expects us to take anything from it.”
Reflecting on the firepower on show this afternoon, the former Southampton midfielder added: “They have Mitch Megginson, who leads the league scoring charts on 17 goals, but our own Archie Macphee is only one behind him on 16, and he’s elling squad leading scorer John Treasurer and central defender Iain Foggo are unavailable through work commitments.
Brora Rangers are without goalkeeper Joe Malin for the visit of Nairn County to Dudgeon Park.
Huntly have released midfielder Lewis Ingram, who made 33 appearances over four seasons for the Black and Golds.
Huntly today take on Turriff United, who have only played in attack fairly recently, so he’s just as big a threat.”
Cove Rangers manager John Sheran said: “Formartine are one of the top teams in the league and they have proved that over the last few years.
“Irrespective of who is in charge of them they have a eight players injured or unavailable.
Deveronvale and Inverurie fantastic squad of players, so we all know it is going to be a really tough game. They will be going all out to impress their new manager Paul Lawson.
“Games between Formartine and Cove are always full of excitement and a lot of good football and I don’t see this one being any different.”
Cove Rangers’ only absentee is forward Jonny Smith.
Elsewhere, secondplaced Fraserburgh face Forres Mechanics for the second time in a week. Locos meet at Princess Royal Park. Vale are still without attacker Chris Blackhall but centre half Michael Dunn and goalkeeper Grant Pennet are added to the squad, while Locos travel without forward Neil Gauld, who has a groin injury, and attacking midfielder Colin Charlesworth, who has a hamstring problem.
Keith manager Ewan Robb has a fully fit squad at his disposal ahead of the
Last Saturday the Broch knocked the Can-Cans out of the Scottish Cup 2-1 at Bellslea and this time the pair go head-to-head at Mosset Park.
Mechanics are without forward Scott Moore, while full-back Simon Allan has a knee injury but goalscoring midfielder Stuart Soane is set to return.
Fraserburgh also face selection concerns with leading scorer Gary Harris on honeymoon and defenders Marc Dickson, Lewis Davidson and Ryan Cowie all injured. Kynoch Park tussle with managerless Lossiemouth.
Clachnacuddin meet Strathspey Thistle at Grant Street Park.
Clach manager Iain Polworth said: “It is a difficult one for us in what is as close to a local derby as we’re going to get.”
Strathspey will be without centre half and captain Scott Hume as he is suspended, while Andy Reid also misses out with a pulled hamstring. Rothes manager Steven MacDonald won’t have to think hard about how to motivate his side ahead of this afternoon’s William Hill Scottish Cup replay against Edusport Academy.
MacDonald was left angry and confused on Thursday after Edusport’s appeal against central defender Angelo Stayer’s second yellow card last week was upheld by the SFA, meaning he can now play at Mackessack Park this afternoon, while at the same time Speysiders attacker Kris Duncan was summarily given a twomatch suspension for his part in the same penalty incident.
MacDonald said: “The SFA has more or less done my pre-match team talk for me, that and the incentive of a possible second derby at Elgin City, there should be no other motivation required. We know they are a good side, so we will have to be at our very best to go through, but we are still unbeaten at Mackessack Park this season and we will try to play on that. We will also have a big support behind us.
“Unfortunately, we now have central defender Paul MacLeod out with the cracked ribs he picked up against Edusport in last week’s game, Jamie Wilson is unavailable and fellow forward Craig Cormack is still out with a back injury, so we only have 14 signed players fit and available.”
Wick Academy hope to go on better than last weekend in their first-round replay at Stirling University.
Academy manager Tom McKenna said: “We will probably start as underdogs and that’s not such a bad thing as it puts less pressure on us as a team.
“I am feeling fairly confident, as are all the lads, and we’re not expecting any problems with the artificial surface we’re playing on tomorrow as we train on it all the time.”
BY DAVE EDWARDS