A host of injuries then a slow start contributed to Inverurie Locos’ Scottish Cup first round exit at the hands of East of Scotland League Premier Division side Jeanfield Swifts.
The Highland League Railwaymen – who were beaten 3-0 by the visitors – went into the tie at Harlaw Park without Greg Mitchell, Ryan Broadhurst, Gary McGowan and Lloyd Robertson, then lost captain Neil McLean to injury on the half hour.
By that time they were already facing an uphill struggle, losing two goals in the first five minutes to great finishes from Connor McLaren and Scott Smith .
It was close to half time before Mark Mitchell in the Jeanfield goal was seriously called into action, making a great save at his right post to keep out a well-struck shot by Kieran Shanks.
Three minutes after half-time the tie was effectively over when McLaren’s right foot shot took a heavy deflection away from the reach of Andy Reid to make it 3-0.
Any outside hopes of a comeback were dashed on 56 minutes when Swifts keeper Mitchell saved a penalty kick from Shanks after Craig Gill was upended in the box.
Despite the Inverurie casualty list, ashen faced Locos gaffer Richard Hastings found the early Jeanfield goals and lack of reaction to them difficult to explain, he said: “These games happen sometimes when you lose early goals, but if there’s a positive it’s that the goals are conceded so early and you look for a reaction to having a mountain to climb, but nobody offered that
“There were too many players off the mark, we need to be stronger and be capable of bouncing back.”
Two-goal Swifts hero McLaren, one of 12 Jeanfield players to have spent time out due to Covid-19 this season, said: “We thought we’d come up here and give Locos a good game, but it proved decisive getting the early goals.
“Our league form has been up and down, but we have players who have performed at a higher level and you step up when it’s Scottish Cup day.”
On Saturday, Hastings and his players get the opportunity to re-prove their credentials when they play host to Highland League champions Brora Rangers.