Shoot-out victory was fully deserved, says McElroy as Anglers get revenge over Alness
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Manager Ewan McElroy hailed his Halkirk United players for reacting "in the best way possible" as they knocked Alness United out of the Football Times Cup – a week after the Easter Ross side had inflicted a first league defeat of the season on the Anglers.
Halkirk won 4-2 on penalties after a 4-4 draw at Dalmore Park on Saturday to progress to the last four of the cup, where they will face Nairn County "A".
The previous weekend, the Anglers had relinquished their place at the top of the North Caledonian League table after Alness came to Morrison Park and won 4-2.
"Overall, we fully deserved the win on Saturday," McElroy said. "Granted we made it difficult for ourselves but on the balance of play we were the much better footballing team.
"The boys reacted in the best way possible after the previous week's disappointment. We knew we would have to perform significantly better if we were going to progress to the semi-finals.
"We looked much sharper and slicker. Although we conceded a couple of sloppy goals, overall the boys were excellent."
Jonah Martens and Grant MacNab both netted doubles for the Anglers, who had built up a three-goal lead by the early stages of the second half. The Alness goals came from Ryan McFee (2), Alexander Mackay and Iain Ross.
Halkirk keeper Kieran Macleod saved two penalties in the shoot-out.
"Our front three were superb," McElroy said. "Grant MacNab’s second goal was an absolute peach and he fully deserved his brace with his work ethic on the day.
"Korbyn Cameron was probably man of the match with another selfless performance for the 90 minutes. He is a nightmare for defenders with his energy and relentless pressure.
"Our first goal epitomised his performance as he chased down a bit of a lost cause, forced the mistake and then set up Jonah."
The Anglers return to league business on Saturday as they visit Bonar Bridge, who suffered a 9-0 mauling at Golspie last weekend.
"Away to Bonar has always been a difficult game for us," McElroy said. "I know they struggled a little last week but they have already beaten St Duthus and drawn with Invergordon on their home patch and I expect another difficult afternoon on Saturday."