Pentland United simply gr-eight as Swifts crash out
"A JOY to watch" was Pentland United boss Michael Gray's verdict after his men swatted Thurso Swifts aside to advance into the next round of the Highland Amateur Cup.
United, who won the trophy last year after a 2-1 extra-time victory against Lerwick Spurs, showed no mercy to a Swifts side missing several regulars as they crushed them 8-0.
On target for Pentland were Sean Campbell (2), Murray Mackintosh (2), Andy Mackay, Roddy Innes (2) and Andy Hardwick – with United racing to a 7-0 half-time lead.
The Dunnet side will now face Lairg Rovers at Ham Park in the first round proper on May 18.
Gray said: "I'm absolutely delighted with the result. Swifts were short-handed with some players missing but our guys went out and did a professional job.
"We were a joy to watch in that first half as the boys played at a high tempo with some good passing and of course our finishing in front of goal.
"You always hope that no matter the opposition or how strong they are the team apply themselves. We surpassed ourselves with that first-half display.
"We couldn't regain our momentum after that opening 45 minutes and were only able to score once more. However, Swifts showed more resilience in the second half."
A number of eyebrows were raised when, despite being the current holders of the trophy, Pentland United were drawn to start the defence of their crown in the preliminary round.
Gray added: "We didn't mind that, to be honest.
"Yes some people say we should have been placed in the first round proper but we were not looking for any privileges for being the current holders of the cup. It's a difficult enough competition for the authorities to run so we've no complaints.
"As for the next round, we faced Lairg a few years back and won 8-1. However, they were missing a few players that day and we're definitely not reading too much into that."
Meanwhile, a thriller to end them all took place at Watten as 12 goals and a penalty shoot-out resulted in the home side edging past Top Joes.
I was close to tearing my hair out. Tactics just seemed to go out of the window
The game finished 6-6 after extra time with Watten keeper Dougie Metcalfe proving to be the hero as his two penalty saves saw his side win the shoot-out 4-3.
Scott McAlpine, Lewis Jack, Shane Honeyman, Kai Cameron (2) and Scott Mackay netted for Watten, with Top Joes hitting back via Martin Murray (2), Derek Munro, William Cannop, Russell Bain and Paul Mackenzie.
Watten player/manager Stuart Sinclair said: "In all my 20 years of playing county football, I've never been involved in a game like that.
"You were wondering what was going on at times and, while it was great for the neutral to watch, I was close to tearing my hair out. Tactics just seemed to go out of the window.
"However, we managed to get through and hopefully the next tie at Invergordon won't be as frantic as this one was."
Top Joes boss Bruce Cormack added: "Given that this was the second cup tie we played in a matter of days that went to extra time, I'm proud of the lads.
"They were dead on their feet. While it was disappointing to lose on penalties, the determination of the team to keep coming back every time Watten went ahead is something to build on for the rest of the season."
Watten's next opponents in the competition, Invergordon, saw off Thurso Pentland in a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Drew Sutherland (2) and Ryan Ross.
Lybster will host Inver in the next round after coming away from Golspie Stafford with a 4-2 victory. Robbie McIvor, Jonah Martens, Gary Swanson and Bobby Gunn all hit the target for Lybster with Stafford replying via Adam Sutherland and Shaun Urquhart.