A comprehensive victory for Cove Rangers saw them move to within two points of Highland League leaders Forres Mechanics after brushing aside a surprisingly lacklustre Fraserburgh at Bellslea Park to compound their Buchan counterparts to a second defeat in little over a week.
After an action-packed Friday night which saw Forres crucially slip up at Station Park, losing 2-1 to Nairn County, the focus turned to the only remaining Saturday game at Bellslea Park.
The match was somewhat hampered in the early stages by a particularly boggy surface which had been near-obliterated in an Under-21s match a fortnight before and a slower-than-usual tempo was the outcome in the few moments after Caryl Potten had blown the initial whistle.
The Broch came close to a goal at eight minutes, a high free-kick from Steven Main catching the Cove goalkeeper, Stuart McKenzie, unawares on his line. McKenzie, nonetheless, managing to palm the shot over the crossbar harmlessly. Fraserburgh would find chances few and far between afterwards, succumbing to a Cove goal just minutes later.
Former Peterhead midfielder Paul Emslie was left with a free header just six-yards out from a corner-kick, converting past Paul Leask in the Broch goal.
The Broch looked helpless in the first-half and, despite attacking regularly, looked harmless in front of Cove’s goal.
Meanwhile, Cove looked to compound their day at the coast with a second goal.
A perfectly weighted through-ball picked out Danny Milne who had been left unmarked by the Broch’s defence, and, as he raced through on goal with Ryan Christie in hot pursuit, the nightmares of last week re-emerged.
Christie, bringing down Milne on the edge of the area, was headed to the tunnel before the referee had a chance to produce the card, but the eventual red card reduced the Broch to ten men before half-time.
With just one goal in it for the Broch, though, there was a belief that the Broch could still salvage something from the game at the restart.
However, unlike their visit to Cove, which saw the Broch reduced to nine players and still dictate large periods of the game, the man advantage at Bellslea looked to spell disaster for Fraserburgh’s title-chasing ambitions.
As Cove looked to find the goal that would seal the points, it was Jamie Beagrie’s threaded pass that prove to be the key in unlocking the Broch’s defence.
Beagrie’s ball went all the way through to Martin Johnston who was clear of any defenders and could have finished the move himself, but instead unselfishly opted for Danny Milne after drawing Leask out from his goal who slotted the ball home.
2-0 down, the Broch did little to prevent a third, and when Danny Milne found his second, the game looked to be well and truly gone for Kris Hunter’s team. Dean Lawrie’s run to the byline had left the Brochers at a standstill and when he cut the ball back to Milne, there was little any of the Fraserburgh side could do to prevent the neat finish finding the back of the net.
The Broch found new confidence in the closing stages of the second-half, but it just was not enough to get anything out of the game. Mark Cowie’s tidy pass to Alan Hale out wide allowed the Broch star the opportunity to clinch a consolation goal, but to add to the Broch’s terrible luck on the day, the ball was deflected past the post and went out for a corner that resulted in nothing, the game fizzling out as the new year approached.
The result leaves Fraserburgh in fourth, in danger of being overtaken by Inverurie Loco Works with their game-in-hand.
To prevent this, the Broch will be hoping for a better team performance in the new year when they travel to struggling Clachnacuddin on Saturday, January 7.