Glasgow University were unable to repeat last season’s Scottish Cup heroics as Aberdonians Cove Rangers cruised into the second round.
Two goals each from Cove strike duo Danny Milne and Daniel Park were the difference between the sides on a blustery Saturday afternoon at Garscube Sports Complex.
The students triumphed 1-0 against Burntisland Shipyard at the same stage last season in their best run in the Scottish Cup for 35 years but faced a much sterner test against Cove, a side currently sitting third in the Highland League.
Manager Danny Bisland set up his side to soak up pressure from the opposition, with Reece Twist acting as the lone striker in a defensive-minded 4-5-1 formation.
The home side started brightly and sent a message that they would not be bullied by more experienced opponents courtesy of some strong tackling in the early stages.
Cove carved out the first chance of the tie 15 minutes in when the ball fell to Kevin Stewart but the midfielder sliced wide from the edge of the box after a cross was only half cleared by the Uni defence.
Stewart could consider himself lucky to stay on the park a few moments later after he earned the first booking for catching Ewan Rothnie with a crunching challenge.
The sides then exchanged chances on the half hour mark, Ross Gallacher firing wide for Glasgow after a smart turn and half volley, while Rangers striker Milne had a goalbound shot blocked by Neil Moffat.
The Aberdonians didn’t have to wait long for the opener, though, as Park fired them into the lead seven minutes before the break. Jordan Leyden’s corner was drilled into the six-yard box and Park escaped his marker to head past Jamie Macfarlane.
Park was a constant threat to the Glasgow backline and had an opportunity to double his tally after a clever flick from Danny Milne. But Uni defensive ace Moffat executed a superb last-ditch challenge to deny him.
The visitors continued to dominate possession after the restart and the students had Moffat to thank again just before the hour mark as he denied another effort from Park. However, a minute later the defender switched from saint to sinner as he tripped Park in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
Milne stepped up and tucked away the penalty low to Macfarlane’s right to hand Cove a 2-0 advantage. Kevin Tindal’s men were well in control by this point and Milne added a third from close range 20 minutes from time after Macfarlane fumbled a Kevin Webster cross at the frontman’s feet.
Substitute Liam Middleton had a chance to reduce the deficit but visiting stopper Stuart McKenzie raced out to save bravely at the striker’s feet.
Park then completed the scoring five minutes from time when he headed in from Ritchie Singer’s corner.
Danny Bisland was understandably disappointed with the result but praised the workrate showcased by his side.
He said: “I thought we did well in the first half and then gave up a soft goal. Cove Rangers are a very good side and the fact that we matched for such a long period will give us confidence going into our next game.
“Their experience shone through, they got the goals at the right time and that killed us.”
University club captain Neil Buchan echoed his manager’s sentiments. “I thought we put in a really good effort, I’m proud of all the guys,” he said.
“They were favourites and it showed with how much possession and the chances they had. But if we had got the first goal or an equaliser then it could have been a very different game.”
Despite the rout, Cove gaffer Tindal admitted he wasn’t entirely satisfied with his team’s performance.
“There were a few words said at half-time, we were a bit slack. We knew we had to improve and get sharper.
“We’re through and that’s the main thing.”