Cup holders Pentland survive Spurs scare
Holders Pentland United avoided a major shock as they managed to stumble over the line and reach the last 16 of the Highland Amateur Cup.
Drawn against fellow Caithness side High Ormlie Hotspur, the hosts were expected to make light work of their unfancied opponents.
After all, Pentland had thumped them 5-0 in the Eain Mackintosh Shield earlier in the season, plus there was the small matter of Spurs being not only a division below United but also a place away from the bottom of their league.
The omens did not look good for Spurs when nine of their squad were unavailable for selection.
But the form book was not only ripped up, it was put through the shredder as Spurs gave Pentland an almighty fright.
Euan MacGregor gave them a shock lead and, despite Roddy Innes levelling for United, Spurs went 2-1 up thanks to Marc Keith's strike.
The young Spurs side began to tire and Pentland's superior stamina and fitness proved pivotal as they scored two late goals through Cameron Montgomery and James Murray.
Pentland United will now travel down the A9 in the next round to face Loch Ness on June 29.
Their manager, Michael Gray, said: "High Ormlie will get all the plaudits for their performance and rightly so. They were superb.
"Ourselves, on the other hand, did not play as well as we could have. We were not at the races and were not as fluid as we usually are.
"Hats off to High Ormlie. They were well up for it and played with high energy – we were a bit lethargic.
"We didn't say anything to the players afterwards as I don't believe in post-mortems immediately after a game has finished.
"Emotions always run high after a game so I prefer to let the dust settle and anything that needs to be discussed is talked about in training when we're all calmer.
"I must pay tribute to Cameron Montgomery and Conor Cormack who came off the bench and effectively turned the game round for us.
"We've a tough draw in the next round as Loch Ness are currently top of their division so we'll have to perform a lot better in order to progress."
Spurs boss Ewan McElroy paid tribute to his young team.
He said: "Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Pentland and wish them all the best in the competition.
"Secondly, while I'm disappointed with the result, I was delighted with the display.
"We were under no illusions as to how tough this tie would be – especially after the thrashing they gave us at our place the last time we played them – but we stepped up to the plate for this one.
"Despite having a number of players missing, those who were available to play were hungry to do well and nearly pulled it off.
"We had a good chance to finish them off when 2-1 up but failed to take it. Tiredness soon set in and Pentland's fitness was decisive as we lost two quick goals in succession.
"Hopefully we can keep this form up. We had a bad start to the season but the boys have shown recently that they're putting it together and we will be looking to improve upon this."