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Stephen Delighted To Be Back At Cove

Cove Rangers’ Barrie Stephen made a long awaited return to action on Saturday playing in Highland League playing for the first time since March of last year.  The 32 year old winger had sat out the last year of his Formartine United contract but admitted his return to action back at Cove where he was a double championship winner was a tough one.

“In a way it was good to have a break and it probably one I think I needed and I’m delighted to be back at Cove Rangers. I was a bit short of match fitness when I came back but I’ve got a good run of games during pre-season and I’m happy to be back.

it was a tough game to start with but having went two-nil down we knew a comeback was required if we were to get anything out of the game but in terms of spirit from the team it was good to see everyone fighting late on to earn a draw.”

Having lost players like Martin Johnston and Stuart McKenzie and having selection problems going into Saturday, Barrie was one of four new faces in the starting eleven alongside Craig Reid, Scott Webster and Scott Burke; Stephen knew that changes would have to be made

“We missed Eric Watson in defence who is an influential player and he’d be a miss to any team in the league if he’s not playing but Roy McBain dropped back into defence to play with Alan Redford and they played very well and Scott Burke also came into the midfield and has a lot to offer following a good showing. It’s no secret we were light on players and had some playing out of position but you’ll always get that at some point in the season but we’ve a good enough squad to cope with that.”

Former Forfar and Peterhead player Jamie McLauchlin came off the bench to start the fight back and having seen what he had to offer in friendly matches; Barrie has been impressed so far with the forward.

“Jamie played really well during pre-season but it was unfortunate for him not to start today but a goal like that help the team strengthen the attacking position and give him a big confidence boost.”

In a game which produced a penalty kick for either side the ex Huntly, Keith, Deveronvale  and Elgin City winger admitted the one his side were awarded look a stronger claim than the one his former club got.

 

“Our penalty was a stonewall decision, their player, Grant Campbell tugged my shirt and the Referee called the decision. I felt the one Huntly got early on in the second half was never a penalty and I was disappointed to see it given as it then gave us an uphill struggle going down two-nil and I’m glad we showed that fighting spirit to come back. Our player has kicked Marek Mádle’s foot and then he screamed out and rolled about like an idiot and Huntly asked for a penalty. I thought the player did that a few times during the game and our centre half’s got clued up to it.”

Matchday Stats: Saturday 3rd August 2013

With the start of the new season having arrived, http://www.hflhub.co.uk has been collating the usual Saturday stats to go along with last week's cup action. Although the Stat Pack is looking fairly bare thus far, there will be plenty room for additions over the coming months.

Matchday Stats (Saturday 3rd August 2013):

Goals Total: 33

Games: 9 

Average Per Game: 3.66

Quickest Goal: 2 minutes: Ross Tokely (Brora Rangers)

Latest Goal: 88 minutes: Greig Mitchell (Inverurie Locos)

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Saturday Summaries 3rd August 2013: Cove come back to earn draw / Brora top the pile

Champions Cove Rangers had to fight back from a 2-0 deficit against Huntly, who had taken the lead through Neale Davidson and David Booth, to draw 2-2 on the opening day at Allan Park.

Goals in the second-half from Jamie McLaughlin and Ryan Stott secured the point for Kevin Tindal's men.

Brora Rangers top the league after a 5-1 defeat of a depleted Clachnacuddin side, with Richie Hart and Steven Mackay both on target. They are above Inverurie Loco Works on goals scored, after the Garioch side ran out 4-0 winners against Strathspey Thistle at Seafield Park. Neil Gauld, Dean Donaldson, a Willie Ridgers own goal and debutant Greig Mitchell were on target.

Fraserburgh notched a fine 1-0 win over http://www.hflhub.co.uk title tip Nairn County, thanks to Mark Cowie's second-half strike. Meanwhile Formartine United defeated Lossiemouth 3-0 with Cammy Keith grabbing a hat-trick on his league debut for Steve Paterson's side.

Wick Academy saw off Buckie Thistle with a goal in each half from Gary Manson and Richard Macadie, while Forres beat Rothes by the same scoreline through Andrew Fraser and Scott Lawrie.

Turriff United beat Fort William 4-2 in Lochaber thanks to a first-half hat-trick by Gary Harris, with Fort's new signing Gordon MacCarroll notching a double.

Meanwhile, Deveronvale defeated ten man Keith 4-1 at Kynoch Park with Martin Charlesworth on target twice. Jonny Smith was red carded in the first-half for the hosts.

Full reports, stats and reaction to follow.

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Weekend Preview Saturday 3rd August 2013

On the eve of the new league season we round up the weekend's team news from around the grounds. Remember to stay with http://www.hflhub.co.uk through the rest of the day to see our pundits' remaining two predictions, including their top tips to claim the elusive title that Cove Rangers brought home last season. 

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Skinner's Predictions Panel (2013-14) 1st: Nairn County

The time has come to reveal the forecasted winners of the 2013-14 SHFL title - and it has split our panel right down the middle with two sides getting two nods each. Over the last fortnight the http://www.hflhub.co.uk pundits have been offering their 18-1 predictions, which is bound to make for interesting reading come the end of the season. Andy Skinner submits his final prediction, as follows...  

1st Place: Nairn County 

Last Season: Prediction: 6th Actual: 4th     

P 34 W 22 D 5 L 7 GD 37 Pts 71   

Post Season Positives: 
Nairn come into the new season with some excellent signings on board. Daniel Moore and Stuart Leslie in particular are two who really impressed in Division three for Elgin last season. With players like that augmenting what was already a 50+ goal strike force in Connor Gethins and Robbie Duncanson - on their day is there anyone who can stop them? Another nod must go to the ground staff who by all accounts have the Station Park surface in immaculate condition.   

Post Season Negatives: 
Although on the whole they maintained consistency throughout the season, in order to win the title they have to win more games. Although that sounds simplistic, the top three above them last season all finished the season with 25 wins - three more than Nairn - so they will really be aiming to convert draws and even games they may previously have lost into wins in order to be in that mix. It really is a fine margin. 

Key Man: 
Connor Gethins. Voted the league's best player last season, and with the ability to score all kinds of goals, he's one who should thrive upon the increased service he will get from the arrival of Leslie and Moore. Competition for places will be fierce, but Gethins will remain the first name on the teamsheet so long as he continues what he's proven so deadly at doing. 

Prediction 2013-2014: 
The level of talent in Nairn's squad is impressive, very simply they're a side packed with quality. They have players who can earn them points when the team don’t play well. And for me there aren't enough teams who will be able to stop them when they do play well, which one would expect to be the majority of the time. This will be Les Fridge's year. 1st

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Skinner's Predictions Panel (2013-14) 3rd: Formartine United

Over the course of the day, the four pundits will outline their predictions for the top three. We begin with http://www.hflhub.co.uk reporter Andy Skinner who casts his attention for third place towards Pitmedden. 

3rd Place: Formartine United 

Last Season: Prediction: 8th Actual: 2nd     

P 34 W 25 D  L 6 GD 67 Pts 78   

Post Season Positives:  
Steve Paterson hasn't dwelled on coming second best in May's end of season drama, and was quick to put the gloves on and make changes to the team. In Cammy Keith's case, the Maroons' loss really is Formartine's gain, and an all-firing strikeforce will be worth a lot of points to United. Gary Clark will bring some spice to the midfield, while John Calder brings competition for places between the sticks.    

Post Season Negatives: 
Formartine came short in a handful of games that were worth a lot of pride to the club last season. The last game of the season was one example, but there was also an Aberdeenshire Cup Final defeat on penalties and a poor performance at Clach in the Scottish Cup. Going into the new season they need a sharper cutting edge when there is a lot at stake. Could Saturday's Ramsdens Cup win against East Stirling be an indication they're headed that way?   

Key Man: 
Craig McKeown. He earned huge plaudits for his performances in his first season after joining from Dundee, and will be paramount to United again this year. After handing him the captaincy, it's clear Pele views his defensive leadership and organisation as hugely important to Formartine's chances this season. 

Prediction 2013-2014: 
Formartine are out to prove a point and the signing of Cammy really underlines how determined they are. They will hope to continue their Ramsdens Cup run against Elgin, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them do well in the Scottish Cup, as well as regional cup competitions where I think their wait for a trophy will finally come to an end. As the fight to win the league intensifies, I think they will be right in the mix but they will be praying for a good winter after the backlog they faced last season. I also think Kevin Webster will be quite a loss for them, a player who has the ability to create goals for himself and others all over the team. A cup success while finishing 3rd

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Skinner's Predictions Panel (2013-14) 2nd: Wick Academy

Our penultimate pre-season prediction sees another full board of disagreement as we get closer to tomorrow's big kick-off. http://www.hflhub.co.uk reporter Andy Skinner is first to offer his thoughts on who will finish the season as runners-up. 

2nd Place: Wick Academy  

Last Season: Prediction: 9th Actual: 3rd     

P 34 W 25 D 1 L 8 GD 53 Pts 76 

Post Season Positives: 
From strength to strength go the Scorries. Last season was a record breaker for them with a highest ever league position, and of course the impeccable 100% home league record across 17 games. They have a talented squad who play some beautiful stuff, and have clocked up a good level of experience in the Highland League despite having many years still ahead of them. Additionally, Barry Wilson's decision to stay on at Harmsworth Park despite an offer from Queen of the South comes as a huge boost to the club and its fans. 

Post Season Negatives: 
The travel issue is one Academy have no control over, however what is in their own hands is how they deal with it. While their home form will remain the catalyst to succeed, the aim will be to improve upon the eight wins they picked up on the road last term.   

Key Man: 
Sam Mackay. He's proven to be a hugely dynamic figure in attacking midfield, and got his season off to a great start with a hat-trick in the AJG Parcels North of Scotland Cup last weekend. 

Prediction 2013-2014: 
Wick's reaction to managerial change last season was excellent, firstly in the interim under Richard Hughes before Barry Wilson came on board and carried on the good work. The Scorries have helped generate a really positive vibe for football in the north and the locals have shown a big enthusiasm for the club, turning up in vast numbers for matches both home and away. Barry's decision to stay on is a statement in itself of what he intends to do with Wick, and given the strong understanding that has been generated between him and the players I think he will get one step closer this season. 2nd 

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Skinner's Predictions Panel (2013-14) 4th: Cove Rangers

It's taken us until 4th place, but we now have our first full set of four differing choices. The disagreement begins with http://www.hflhub.co.uk reporter Andy Skinner who has opted for last season's winners, Cove Rangers. 

4th Place: Cove Rangers  

Last Season: Prediction: 5th Actual: 1st     

P 34 W 25 D 5 L 4 GD 75 Pts 80   

Post Season Positives: 
Coming into the first game of the season knowing their last competitive outing won them the Highland League title is a huge morale surge for Kevin Tindal's men. For the next year Cove will be referred to as 'Highland League champions' in reports and news articles, and every time people at the club see that it will rekindle great memories of a remarkable comeback in the second half of the season.   

Post Season Negatives: 
A couple of mainstays of the title-winning side, and indeed the Cove team of the past few years, have left.  Goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie and captain Roddy Black have sought pastures new and will leave a big void, as will Danny Milne and Murray McCulloch who left mid-season.   

Key Man: 
Jordan Leyden. He's proven to be an excellent addition since stepping up from junior football, and he makes his presence felt with bursts of pace that leave defenders trailing.  

Prediction 2013-2014: 
Defending the league title is exceedingly difficult, and what Buckie did in 2011 was a tremendous achievement when you consider how strong the league is in its current state. It generally takes time to adapt to having a new goalkeeper between the sticks, it's such a vital part of the team but for reasons owing to communication and understanding built up over a period of time. Cove will be up there, and while they are more than capable of defending their title, I think they will be overtaken by a top three who have been starved of Highland League success (with just one title shared between them) and each of whom is in as strong a position as ever. 4th 

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League Table

Rank Teams Played Points Current form
1 Cove Rangers 20 56 WWWWW
2 Fraserburgh 21 48 WLWWD
3 Inverurie Locos 23 48 WWLWD
4 Formartine United 21 43 LWWWW
5 Forres Mechanics 21 42 WWWWW
6 Buckie Thistle 23 42 WWLDW
7 Brora Rangers 19 41 WWWLD
8 Huntly 22 38 LWWLL
9 Rothes 21 31 WWLDL
10 Deveronvale 21 29 WWLDL
11 Nairn County 20 29 LWLWD
12 Clachnacuddin 22 28 DWWLW
13 Turriff United 21 24 LLLLL
14 Wick Academy 18 23 LDDWW
15 Keith 23 11 WLLLL
16 Lossiemouth 24 11 WLWLL
17 Strathspey Thistle 20 3 LLLLL
18 Fort William 20 1 LLLLL

Recent Results

20-01-2018 15:00 - Scottish Cup Fourth Round
East Fife 0 : 1 Brora Rangers
13-01-2018 15:00 - SHFL Week 25
Huntly 1 : 2 Buckie Thistle
Turriff United 0 : 4 Cove Rangers
Wick Academy 2 : 0 Keith
Lossiemouth 0 : 6 Formartine United
Inverurie Locos 2 : 2 Fraserburgh
Fort William 1 : 9 Forres Mechanics
06-01-2018 15:00 - SHFL Week 24
Fraserburgh 7 : 0 Fort William
Buckie Thistle 2 : 2 Brora Rangers
30-12-2017 15:00 - SHFL Week 23
Buckie Thistle 0 : 2 Cove Rangers
Lossiemouth 1 : 2 Wick Academy
23-12-2017 15:00 - SHFL Week 22
Deveronvale 2 : 3 Cove Rangers
Wick Academy 1 : 1 Nairn County
Fort William 3 : 4 Lossiemouth
Fraserburgh 7 : 0 Huntly
Inverurie Locos 5 : 0 Strathspey Thistle
Forres Mechanics 3 : 2 Brora Rangers
Keith 0 : 3 Clachnacuddin

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Next Fixtures

31-01-2018 19:45 - Scottish Cup Fourth Round
Fraserburgh - : - Rangers
31-01-2018 20:00 - Scottish Cup Fourth Round
Formartine United - : - Cove Rangers

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