Formartine United player-manager Paul Lawson hailed his players for edging out Buckie Thistle to reach the Aberdeenshire Shield final.
Andrew Greig’s first-half penalty gave the Pitmedden men a 1-0 win at Victoria Park.
In the final they will face Banks o’ Dee or Fraserburgh, and Lawson is already looking forward to it.
He said: “It wasn’t a great game and I don’t think the pitch helped, I thought we played it well.
“The boys handled it and we played a bit more direct football.
“We scored from a penalty but had a couple of other chances and overall we have to be happy because we’re in a final.
“I think it was a penalty and I think Buckie would agree.
“I thought we defended really well. Kieran Lawrence in midfield was outstanding for us in breaking up play, but everyone played their part.
“We should be competing at the top of the league and be in finals.
“This is another one we’ve got to look forward to and I’m very pleased for the boys because they deserve it. We had a sticky patch earlier in the season but they have turned things around.”
Lawson also praised centre-back Craig McKeown who made his first start on his return from injury.
Lawson added: “Craig has experience and he might feel fitness-wise he’s not where he could be.
“He has been out for a long time, he came on as a sub on Saturday and started last night and he led by example. That’s what you want and he was outstanding.”
The opening quarter of an hour was fiercely contested. Lewis MacKinnon fired well over from a corner for the hosts and at the other end Graeme Rodger’s angled drive fizzed just wide. On 24 minutes, Formartine got a penalty when Greig’s corner from the left was met by McKeown and his header hit the hand of MacKinnon.
Referee Dan McFarlane pointed to the spot and GREIG buried it into the bottom left corner.
In the 35th minute, Garry Wood was unlucky to see his glancing header from another Greig corner on the left go wide.
In the second period Greig and Archie Macphee fired long-range efforts wide for United.
Buckie pushed hard for a leveller late on but, despite plenty of pressure and balls into the box, they couldn’t force extra time.
Jags boss Graeme Stewart said: “They got a penalty which could have not been given. Lewis was about two yards away from it and after that the game was 50-50, so it was disappointing.
“My personal opinion is that it isn’t a penalty, but I don’t know how the referee only adds two minutes on in the first half and three in the second half.
“In the first half Kevin Main was down injured for four minutes and we had a player down for two – that’s six minutes.
“In the second half there were six subs which at 30 seconds a sub is three minutes, and then two players down for at least a minute each and he admitted Formartine were time-wasting.
“That extra time could have given us another few attacks so I’m disappointed in the referee.”