Buckie Thistle manager Graeme Stewart piled praise on his players after they conquered Brora Rangers on penalties to reach the Highland League Cup final.
The Jags twice led at Dudgeon Park, with Steven Ross’ early strike cancelled out by Bjorn Wagenaar to take the tie to extra-time.
Although Jack Murray looked to have won the match with a goal in the second half of extra-time, the Jags had Hamish Munro sent off shortly afterwards before Gregor MacDonald struck in the dying seconds to take the match to penalties.
Kyle MacLeod saw the Jags’ first penalty saved by Joe Malin, however, misses by Brora’s MacDonald and Mark Nicolson allowed Andy MacAskill to net the winning spot-kick in a 4-3 shootout triumph.
The Jags’ reward will be a final against Rothes at Kynoch Park on Saturday.
Stewart felt his side were worthy winners against the Highland League champions, who had already played three competitive matches in the Betfred Cup.
He said: “I am so proud. I think it would have been a bit of an injustice if we didn’t win considering the amount of clear-cut chances we had.
“This pre-season has been the fittest I have ever seen them. I had no issues with fitness, we have had five or six pre-season games and they have been unbelievable.”
Stewart reckons next week’s challenge against Ross Jack’s Speysiders will be just as difficult.
“We will go there hoping to win, although we will maybe go there as underdogs with Rothes finishing above us last year and having a great result against Formartine,” he said.
Buckie took the lead after less than two minutes, with Joe McCabe playing Ross clean through to coolly slot past Joe Malin.
Brora started the second half strongly and levelled on 57 minutes when Martin Maclean’s superb pass released Wagenaar, who squeezed the ball past Daniel Bell from an acute angle.
The Jags regained the lead early in the second half of extra-time when Murray nodded home MacAskill’s corner, however, Buckie were reduced to 10 men when Hamish Munro was dismissed for hauling down Paul Brindle.
Brora equalised through Gregor MacDonald’s late deflected strike, but the Jags held their nerve to triumph in the shootout.