Deveronvale 2 Cove Rangers 3
Highland League title hopefuls Cove Rangers were given a severe test by Deveronvale as the visitors just came out on top in a five goal thriller.
Vale more than matched Cove throughout the 90 minutes but one moment of slackness midway through the second half gave the visitors an advantage that they never conceded but Vale will have learned more from the game than Cove apart from the fact the visitors came out on top.
Vale manager Steve Dolan (right)was glowing in the praise that he gave his side after the full time whistle saying that the performance showed how far the team has come since their previous encounters with Cove this season which they both lost heavily.
He said "We more than deserved something from the game as we more than matched Cove and that was despite the fact that we lost Paul Sutherland who was unplayable during that first half through injury early in the second half.
"The only thing that I could be disappointed about was the way that we lost the third goal as we stood off Ryan Strachan to allow him to get the shot on goal but apart from that I have nothing but credit for my players display against a team who I think will be league champions this season.
"When Paul Sutherland plays like he did he is virtually unstoppable but it has taken him a bit of the season to get up to that level with him being on holiday at the start and it was disappointing that he had to come off injured but you can see now what he brings to the team.
"However this was an all round team effort because guys like Liam Forbes, Matthew Wallace and Dane Ballard are all playing through injuries to support their teammates.
"I know that it was a defeat and it isn’t great getting beaten but the guys have to be proud of themselves and as I said at the start of the season the fans will be happy because I have a squad who will give 110% to get this club back onto the track to where we want to take it".
Cove took an early lead through a Jamie Masson deflected strike after just seven minutes but Vale were level just nine minutes later as Lewis Dunbar got his head onto an attempted clearance from Scott Ross to score from 10 yards.
Vale went ahead with one of the goals of the season so far as Paul Sutherland picked up the ball 40 yards from goal to drift past two challenges before finding the top corner of Stuart McKenzie’s goal from 25 yards. Absolutely stunning from the youngster after 32 minutes.
Cove levelled six minutes from the break with a 30 yard strike from Ryan Stott that could have been dealt with better by Grant Pennet as the ball bounced in front of him.
Cove grabbed the winner after 66 minutes when Ryan Strachan got too much space on the edge of the box to fire into the postage stamp corner.
Vale end the year with a clash at Brora on Saturday looking to avenge their earlier defeat this season from the Sutherland outfit.