Inverurie Locos assistant manager Steven Park hailed matchwinner Neil Gauld after he fired them to victory in the Aberdeenshire Shield.
The Railwaymen came from behind to beat Huntly 3-1 at Christie Park in the first round of the Shield, with Gauld netting their second and third goals to take him to 24 for the season.
The striker has been prolific despite a groin niggle and Park said: “He is a guy who has more than 20 goals in October and he is only 75% fit.
“He’s been frightening with how well he’s played. We’ve had to manage him with the amount of training he does because of his groin.
“There’s a few boys leggy just now because of the injuries we’ve had. We haven’t been able to make many changes to the team.”
The result ends a miserable run for Locos in cups. Last term they were knocked out in the first round of every cup they played in and already this term they have fallen at the first hurdle in the Aberdeenshire Cup.
So Park was pleased to get through this one, adding: “We were slack in the first half and I felt Huntly were a lot sharper with their passing and movement off the ball.
“It was still even in chances, we had Greg Mitchell doing well getting down the right wing and supporting Neil Gauld.
“I just felt the final pass into Gauld and Joe McCabe was either behind them or too far in front.
“It wasn’t sharp enough so we were happy to get in at half time at 0-0.
“In the second half we started well and pressed well in the first 10 minutes.
“Then we lost a goal and I thought that was what it would take to get a reaction out of them.
“Fair play to the boys we got the equaliser soon after and then I felt only one team was going to go on and win. Our quality shone through.”
On 20 minutes Locos were close when Joe McCabe glanced Neil McLean’s free-kick from the left just wide.
Midway through the half Locos keeper Andy Reid made a fine save to thwart Gary McGowan’s shot from the edge of the area after the striker’s fleet footwork created an opening.
Soon after, McGowan latched on to Nick Gray’s through ball and fired inches wide from just inside the box. At the other end, for Locos Gauld’s overhead kick dropped just wide.
Just four minutes into the second period Huntly were ahead when Nick GRAY drove forward and unleashed a stunning 25-yard shot into the top left corner.
At the other end Euan Storrier palmed away Gauld’s close range effort.
On 58 minutes Storrier made an excellent save to tip McCabe’s header on to the bar after the attacker met Greg Mitchell’s cross from the right.
The Black and Golds could not clear and Storrier had to save seconds later from Gauld.
When the resultant corner was played back in Locos did level. Mark Souter’s 10-yard shot hit the left post and MITCHELL knocked home the rebound from six yards.
With 18 minutes to play Huntly’s Ryan McRitchie rattled the left post from 14 yards after collecting McGowan’s free-kick.
On 78 minutes it was 2-1 Locos when GAULD met Jordan Leyden’s corner from the right and headed home at the near post from six yards.
Four minutes later victory was sealed when Stuart Duff’s pass released GAULD and he rounded Storrier to finish.
Huntly manager Martin Skinner said: “In the first half we were very good and should have been ahead.
“But in the second half we froze. We didn’t come out in the first 15 minutes and you can’t do that against Locos.
“It’s frustrating because in the first half we showed a lot of promise.”