Inverurie Locos boss Andy Low was pleased to simply be in the next round of the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup after a 2-1 win over Turriff United.
Home side Locos advanced to the last eight thanks to a second-half strike from debutant Kieran Shanks, who netted on his first start since joining from Aberdeen.
The victory earns the Harlaw Park outfit a difficult trip to Fraserburgh in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
Low said: “We’re delighted to get through to the next round. You could see we were lacking a bit of match sharpness – it’s no fault of any of our boys. It’s just due to current circumstances. We’ve only managed to get two games in since we returned at the beginning of November.
“We grew into the game. We were much better in the second half and got a great goal from Kieran to win the game. It was a tough test and you’re delighted to get through to the next round.”
Low was able to call upon Shanks, who joined earlier this month, from the start, playing him in a front three with Andy Hunter and Sam Burnett.
Hunter put Locos in front in the first half, turning in Neil McLean’s free-kick, before Dons loanee Tyler Mykyta equalised for the visitors.
Shanks’ winner came from another McLean set-piece, with his corner turned back into the box and on the turn, the young striker swivelled and finished well past Fraser Hobday.
Low added: “I thought Kieran was outstanding, especially in the first half. He maybe didn’t get involved in the game as much as he would have liked in the first half, but in the second half his work-rate was exceptional.
“It was the same with Andy Hunter. Jamie Michie deserves a mention as well, he was probably man-of-the-match over the 90 minutes. There were a lot of good, honest performances and I can say the same for Turriff.”
It was very nearly a perfect start for the home side after Hunter’s diagonal ball was brought down well by Burnett. He laid it into Michie’s path and his shot went narrowly wide.
A bizarre series of events then saw both sides have goals disallowed in a frantic minute of play. Robert Ward’s mishit shot was turned back against the post by Brown and broke to Mykyta, who swept the ball into the bottom corner. However, a belated flag while Turriff were celebrating ruled the goal out and Reid launched an opportunistic ball forward.
Shanks had the entirety of the Turriff half to run into, but got the ball trapped under his feet as he advanced on Hobday on the edge of the 18-yard box. Hunter had made ground to catch up with him and collected a backheel from Shanks to steer into an empty net, only for the flag to go up again on the opposite side of the pitch.
The final chance for Turriff to snatch an equaliser came with two minutes to go when Reid advanced out of his goal to clear from Ward, only for the ball to break to Mykyta 25 yards from goal. His shot drifted wide of goal and, with it, Turriff’s chances.
Low added: “It is going to take a while to get back up to that competitive nature, but there’s nothing else for it. We’ve just got to get our heads down and get on with it.
“We’ve now got Fraserburgh on Saturday which will be a very tough game. They’re a top side. But we all wanted to come back to play football, so I’m looking forward to it.”