Cove Rangers boss John Sheran hailed match-winner Paul McManus after they beat Formartine United 3-2 after extra-time in the Aberdeenshire Shield second round.
Substitute McManus was the hero for the Aberdeen side as he struck with four minutes of extra-time left to set up a semi-final with Turriff United at the Haughs.
After the North Lodge Park thriller, Sheran said: “Paul produced a great finish to get the winner. We only had three subs so it was a case of putting on what you had.
“But Paul has been crying out to get a goal so I’m delighted for him to score.
“It was a physical encounter and we hadn’t played for a few weeks.
“But despite that I thought the fitness of the boys shone through and they stuck to the task.
“There was no lack of sharpness and I thought the first half was as good a game of Highland League football as I’ve seen in a long time.”
The game went into extra- time after Stuart Smith’s 94th minute equaliser, with Sheran believing referee Mat Northcroft should have blown for full-time before the goal.
He added: “I don’t know where the injury time came from I don’t remember the physio being on the park.
“I just felt he was going to keep playing until they scored so I’m pleased we got the win in the end.”
United manager Paul Lawson said: “It’s a sore one for the boys to take because I think they put a lot into the game.
“But so did Cove and I think it made for a great cup tie so full credit to them. But when you lose a goal so late that is the sickener. It’s trying to lift the lads afterwards because there are a few gutted faces.”
Formartine were ahead on 28 minutes when Graeme RODGER slotted home after Archie Macphee played him through. The Aberdeen outfit levelled 10 minutes later when Ryan STOTT headed home Dean Lawrie’s left wing cross.
On 72 minutes Mitch MEGGINSON had Cove ahead when he finished off a counter-attack for his 30th goal this season.
But United came back when SMITH bundled home after Stuart Anderson’s free-kick deflected off the wall and caused a scramble in the six-yard box.
McMANUS got the winner with a clincal strike from 12 yards before Craig McKeown headed against the bar for Formartine.”