Forres target Cove's invincibles tag again
FORRES Mechanics ended Cove Rangers' hopes of an unbeaten Highland League season last term and will be all out to do the same this weekend.
The Aberdonians picked up from their title-winning campaign by claiming victory in all 13 of their league games this season.
Last April, with Cove already crowned champs and just three games away from finishing the season undefeated, Mechanics threw a spanner in the works by beating them 1-0 at Harlaw Park to inflict a first loss on the potential invincibles.
It was also Cove's first league defeat in almost 18 months.
Forres boss Charlie Rowley would dearly love to repeated the achievement by tarnishing the leaders' perfect league record thus far, but realises it will be a tough challenge.
Cans were held to a goal-less draw by vastly improved Strathspey Thistle on Saturday, just three days after a 5-0 win over bottom side Fort William.
With captain and top goalscorer Stuart Soane ruled out for up to a month with a hamstring tear, and several others struggling with injuries, Cans will travel to the Granite City with tight numbers.
"We beat Cove in the latter stages of last season at Inverurie," Rowley said. "That was their first taste of defeat in the league.
"They know we are capable of doing that but in the form they are in just now they just keep on churning out result after result. Thirteen wins in a row in the league means we realise the task ahead of us on Saturday.
"It really is a free hit for us. We have got nothing to lose, we are expected to lose so we will go there with a bit of freedom in my opinion and try and get a positive result of some sort. But I realise it will be very difficult for us."
By all accounts Cove have not been firing on all cylinders this term, yet with their one hundred per cent record still intact it underlines how much quality they have to carry them to victory each week.
"Even if you class some of their top players as not playing to their full potential they are still right up there as the best in the league even on an off-day for some of them," said Rowley.
"You don't expect every one of their squad to have that off-day so if some of their big players are not performing they've still got strength in depth to counteract that with their performances."
Rowley had no complaints about Saturday's home draw against Strathspey.
"They defended really well, we were a wee bit off in the final third in terms of the quality and a draw was probably a fair result. They could even have sneaked it in the end, they had chances on the counter attack. But we didn't do enough to say we deserved anything more than a draw."
Last Wednesday, goals by Allan Macphee, Liam Taylor (2) and Andy Macrae (2) were enough to comfortably see off Fort.
Macphee is struggling to make Saturday games right now due to work commitments, while Soane has sustained a grade two tear in his hamstring and is expected to be out for three to four weeks.
Martin Groat returns to training this week from an ankle injury but is unlikely to be risked at Cove, while Simon Allan made a sub appearance against Strathspey but is still short of full match fitness.
Injured pair Craig McGovern and Lee Fraser remain on the sidelines.