Once again for Inverurie Locos it was a case of what might have been following a 2-1 defeat by Turriff United.
Turriff remain joint top of the Highland League with a 100 per cent record but had to dig deep to get the better of neighbours in a game of two halves where the big talking point was the validity of a disallowed Martin Bavidge goal.
The two sides went into this encounter on the back of differing emotions. Locos came from behind to beat Keith and earn a Semi-final place in the Aberdeenshire Cup, while Turriff endured extra time and a penalty shoot out before bowing out to Cove Rangers.
Heavy morning rain in Inverurie certainly did not dampen spirits with a big turnout including a full hospitality presence in place for this one.
For Locos, John Maitland was at a wedding, Ryan Broadhurst working, Ross Anderson, Kieran Adams and Andy Hunter still injured, Turriff were still without Paul Young and another missing key player was Aaron McKenna. The visitors came out of the traps with intent, Andy MaCaskill latching on to a loose back pass and he saw his well hit shot parried away by Scott Mathieson.
MaCaskill was again to the fore sending in the driving Lewis Davidson one on one with Mathieson who came out fast to block and ensure the rebound wasn’t pounced on.
Inevitably it was the No 10 ex Inverness Caley Thistle pocket dynamo who set up the opener in 10 minutes. His slide-rule pass was perfectly weighted for Gary McGOWAN coming through the inside right channel and he hammered the ball through Mathieson into the net.
Already without key defenders the last thing Locos needed was another absence but Gordon Forsyth bravely returned to the fray with a head bandage after being accidentally forced into an advertising hoarding.
Locos’ first threat came from young stand in centre back Daniel Crisp whose powerful downward header from Neil McLean’s free kick met with a good diving save from Kevin Main. Right on half time Mathieson was again the home hero foiling a volley from McGowan with a diving save. Ten minutes after the restart Martin Laing set home supporters hearts racing with a curled effort that looked to have beaten Main but instead it landed near his side net.
Controversy was to follow, as McGowan lay on the ground awaiting treatment on a wrist injury, Bavidge met a cross from the right which Main for once failed to hold. As the ball fell to ground Bavidge quickly got it over the line. Ref Shaw pointed to the halfway line, the linesman said handball, goal disallowed. And later the official line was a challenge on the keeper. It was all one team on the attack, Bavidge feeding on to young colleague Joe McCabe who very nearly squeezed his shot in at Main’s left post.
With Nick Gray and Darren Mackie called into the fray to give a breakaway outlet, Locos knew they had to be on guard. And after the two players combined Mathieson saved well from Mackie
With nine minutes left Darren MACKIE made it 2-0 sneaking in from the right, nutmegging a Locos defender and sticking the ball into the corner with his left foot.
Still there was no surrender, a McCabe effort from close range round the post by Main, Forsyth’s effort from the corner cleared off the line. A cheeky back-heel from McCabe was the next to have a go at foxing Main but he was alive to it.
Main was determined for a clean sheet next producing an acrobatic save from sub Jordan Leyden but deep in injury time after another corner, Gordon FORSYTH was on hand to net with a header at the back post . But there was to be no time for a grandstand finish.
Locos: Mathieson, Mitchell, Young, Begg (Leyden 64), Forsyth, Crisp, Charlesworth, McLean, McCabe, Bavidge, Laing
Subs: Souter, Robertson, Coull, McCaffrey
Turriff: Main, Davidson, Chalmers, Cumming (Herd 82), Bowden, Kuznecovs, Beagrie, Nowosielski (Gray 69), McGowan (Mackie 74), A MacAskill, Allan
Subs: Wozniak, McKenzie, C MacAskill, O’Brien
Referee: Thomas Shaw