Auchinleck Talbot knocked Cove Rangers out of the Scottish Cup for the second year in a row thanks to Dwayne Hyslop’s priceless 88th minute headed goal.
Cove had chances to win the tie but they struggled to break down the home defence and, any time they did, found immaculate handling from home goalkeeper Andrew Leishman’.
Cove manager Paul Hartley said: “We had so much possession, we didn’t deserve to lose but we know that can happen if you’re not clinical.
“We would have taken a 0-0 and taken them back up the road. It looked like that was going to be the case, but we maybe didn’t work their keeper as much as we should have.
“We had so much of the ball but we could have done better with the goal.
“We’re out of the cup, and that can happen; they defended in numbers and were nice and compact so good luck to them in the next round.”
Both teams were at full strength and the playing surface at Beechwood Park was in wonderful condition so the stage was set for a classic cup tie, with Cove looking to avenge last season’s 2-1 replay defeat at the same venue.
Cove forced an early corner kick and when the ball broke to Connor Scully 22 yards out he fired in a superb half-volley which was brilliantly turned round the post by Talbot goalkeeper Leishman.
At the other end Mark Shankland ballooned high over the crossbar from a promising position as the action flowed swiftly from end-to-end.
Stuart McKenzie did well to block another close-range effort from Shankland as the home side pressed for the opener.
In the 21st minute, Cove’s Fraser Aird should have done better than screw his 10-yard drive past the upright after cutting-in from the left.
Auchinleck had an escape five minutes later when left-back Gordon Pope slipped while trying to clear the ball but Martin Scott was closed down by two home defenders before he could capitalise.
Connor Scully, playing in a more advanced midfield position, with Fraser Fyvie undertaking that more defensive role, was picking up a lot of second balls but was unable to unlock a well-organised home defence.
Early in the second half Matthew Smith headed wide as Cove pushed forward before a 10-yard effort from Graham Wilson at the other end sailed over the top with the help of a deflection.
Just before the hour Cove brought on Jamie Masson in place of Andrew Smith and on the hour Martin Scott saw his clever chip go over off the top of the crossbar with Leishman beaten.
In the 88th minute Beechwood Park erupted when Hyslop met a left wing cross from substitute Bryan Boylan and headed high over the helpless McKenzie from six yards out.
Buoyant Talbot manager Tommy Sloan said: “We had to do a bit of a job today as Paul Hartley has brought some top players into his squad.
“Luckily enough I went up and had a look at them the other week and that gave me a wee inkling into what was required.
“I think we brightened up in the second half and in the end we managed to win it with a great header.
“We worked hard all day and, in the end I think we got the reward for all our efforts.”