Formartine United progressed to the quarter-finals of the 2021-22 Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup with a 2-1 victory over Buckie Thistle.
Graeme Rodger’s early goal and Jonny Smith’s second half penalty secured a home tie for the Pitmedden outfit against Huntly in the last eight.
Buckie captain Kevin Fraser did pull one back to set-up a grandstand finish, but Formartine managed to hold out.
It was only three weeks ago that the sides met in the semi-final of the 2020-21 Aberdeenshire Cup after that tournament was carried over from last season.
On that occasion Formartine won 7-6 penalties following a 0-0 draw at North Lodge Park.
The final was then played last midweek with United losing 3-1 to Fraserburgh.
Visitors make early breakthrough
Buckie had Lyall Booth in their starting line-up. The defender has signed a short-term contract with the Jags after leaving Aberdeen this summer.
The tie started at a frenetic pace and the visitors took the lead in the ninth minute.
Kevin Hanratty started it off, weaving in from the left flank before releasing Andrew Greig with a pass down the right wing and Greig’s cross picked out Rodger at the back post and he finished with aplomb.
Buckie were inches away from an instant equaliser when Kevin Fraser’s first time pass released Scott Adams inside the box, but he shot against the right post.
Greig was next to go close with his strike from 30 yards turned behind by former Formartine goalkeeper Kevin Main.
On the half hour mark the Jags hit the woodwork again with Sam Pugh heading Andrew MacAskill’s corner against the crossbar.
MacAskill’s deliveries were causing problems and another corner was glanced just wide soon after by Sam Morrison.
In first half stoppage time Buckie were close again with Max Barry lifting the ball over from close range after Sam Urquhart’s intelligent header across goal.
United double their lead
Six minutes after the restart Smith did double Formartine’s lead.
The striker converted a penalty after referee Kevin Buchanan ruled Morrison had tripped Hanratty inside the area.
At 2-0 Buckie were chasing the game, but Adams went close to pulling a goal back with a curling effort from the edge of the box which went just over.
On 64 minutes United goalkeeper Balint Demus made a fine smothering save to deny Kevin Fraser at close range from MacAskill’s cross.
Jags sub Kyle MacLeod was next to go close, but again Demus was in the way, tipping over the shot.
But with quarter of an hour left Buckie captain Fraser pulled one back when he got onto Barry’s long through ball, rounded Demus and squeezed home a shot from an acute angle.
In the 81st minute Demus saved with his legs to keep Barry’s deflected shot from 15 yards out of the net.
Demus made another impressive late save diving low to his left to thwart sub Adam MacLeod from Adams’ cutback from the left.
As time ran out Buckie continued to throw everything at Formartine, but the equaliser which would have forced penalties didn’t materialise.