Cove Rangers were impressive in defeat against Peterhead and will hope to continue their lively start to life in the league against Scottish Championship outfit Dundee. It’s a match that will carry added importance for new Cove manager Paul Hartley who previously managed Dundee. Adding further intrigue is that the Dee’s manager, James McPake, was one of Hartley’s first signings at Dens Park.
Cove lost 2-1 to Peterhead after taking the lead, but dominated the shots against last season’s Scottish League Two champions and can consider themselves unlucky to have lost. Meanwhile, Dundee took full advantage of defensive lapses at Stark’s Park to convincingly beat Raith Rovers 3-0.
Cove’s chances are not helped by the fact that top striker Mitch Megginson went off injured against Peterhead and is likely to miss the game against Dundee and, potentially, the rest of the Group stage, although Martin Scott will return from suspension. McPake, meanwhile, has nearly a full squad to choose from, although Callum Moore will miss out.
Key Battle - Jamie Masson vs Josh Todd
Jamie Masson and Josh Todd represent both sides’ best chances of goals coming from midfield. Masson scored against Peterhead and his three goals in the playoffs were instrumental as Cove reached League Two for the first time.
Meanwhile, a new signing for Dundee, Todd impressed at Queen of the South last season and Dundee represents the biggest opportunity in his career to date. He will be keen to impress in these early games as he seeks to cement a place in the starting line up.
Master vs Apprentice
McPake, of course, should know Hartley’s management style inside out, having been given his first chance in coaching by Hartley. He told the club website: “I know how well he worked. Any insight I have will be about how up for it Cove will be, how ready they’ll be. His teams are always fit, they are always playing high tempo football. I know what we are facing with Paul’s teams.”
While Hartley bemoaned his side’s luck against Peterhead, he told the Press and Journal: “I don’t want hard-luck stories every week. If you switch off at this level you’ll get punished and I’ve said that to the players. We’ve got to keep improving.”