The 2012 winners, Nairn County dominated the cup-tie against Inverurie Locos on Saturday, but let their opponents fight their way back before finishing with a flourish to earn themselves a home quarter final meeting with Lossiemouth.
For Locos, the 2008 and 2009 winners, it was a huge disappointment to fall flat on their faces at the very first hurdle. The clawing back of a two goal deficit masked the fact Inverurie Locos performed really badly for a long spell for the second away game in a row.
Jamie Michie was out of the squad, Martin Laing taking his No 7 shirt while John Maitland and David Ross were back in the 17 after injury, taking places on the bench.
Defender Martin MacDONALD put his mark on the game, taking a strike from distance which Scott Mathieson poorly parried allowing the No 5 to come racing in and prod home the rebound.
At the other end there was no follow up on a Jordan Leyden free kick that was spilled by Callum Antell under pressure.
Thereafter it was an onslaught by the Wee County, a Conor Gethins goal disallowed, then an angled header from Sam Urquhart coming off the post following a Kyle Wilkie corner. Amongst it all calamitous Locos defending meant only a final touch was needed for a second goal.
The visitors were nowhere near getting back in the tie, MacDonald seeing a deep free kick from Alan Pollock fly off his shoulder and land on top of the net. The vital second goal came in 39 minutes, Locos central defenders trying to pass their way around and dribble out of just in front of their penalty area. The ball broke to the deadly Conor GETHINS who sent a delicious right foot curler inside Mathieson’s left post from 20 yards.
It looked like being a game of two halves when in 54 minutes Martin BAVIDGE converted from the penalty spot after Adam Naismith could not get his arm out of the way of a hard hit cross from the left.
That was followed soon after by Neil McLean firing into the side net and midway through the half, when Antell clutched a McLean free kick, the Red and Black players claimingit was over the line.
Amazingly in 77 minutes the score was levelled. Jordan Leyden’s inswinging corner from the left came all the way to the back where left back Gordon FORSYTH found a great connection to drill the ball home.
Seven minutes from time the tie swung back Nairn’s way. Kieran Adams had his foot stamped on in the box, and after appearing to retaliate, referee Douglas Ross flashed a straight red and awarded the second spot kick of the game. GETHINS sent Mathieson the wrong way to make it 3-2.
The visitors were reduced to nine men very late on, captain Neil McLean collecting a second yellow for an alleged dive. And right at the end Robbie DUNCANSON was allowed to drive on on the box and place home number four with a delicate toe poke.
Nairn County: Antell, Morrison, Macdonald, Mackintosh, Pollock, Gethins, Urquhart (Halsman 83), Wilkie (R Naismith 90), A Naismith, Duncanson, Main
Subs: Webb, Macleod, Cameron, Moir, Maclean
Inverurie Locos: Mathieson, Mitchell, Forsyth, Begg, Adams, Broadhurst, Laing ( Hunter 46), McLean, Leyden, Bavidge, Donaldson
Subs: Keir, Maitland, Anderson, Ross, Pennet
Referee: D Ross