Cove Rangers would have been justifiably aggrieved had they been dragged out of the Scottish Cup against their own will.
Queen of the South, struggling at the bottom of the Championship, benefitted from an incorrect call from an official and a retaken corner for both of their goals, only to be twice pegged back by the League One leaders.
They took the lead through Ruben Soares Junior, with the goal given despite his header not crossing the line. Iain Vigurs levelled the game from a free-kick but they were behind again with 20 minutes to go, with a scrappy back-post header from Ruari Paton.
But in a game Cove dominated, they were not to be left empty-handed. Rory McAllister, who came off the bench to rescue the game, hammered the ball home in stoppage-time.
It was the the least Paul Hartley’s side deserve, who outshone their full-time opponents in the north-east.
“We didn’t deserve to lose this game,” said Hartley. “They didn’t create a lot of chances – we were well on the front foot and their keeper made some great saves.
“Even in the first half, I thought we were comfortable in our play. I’m disappointed in the manner of the goals we lost but there was a great reaction of the players.
“We’ve got loads of character. Not many teams will come up here and beat us. We’ve still got an opportunity to get through; we know it’ll be tough down there but we showed what we’re about.
“We’re a good team and we stuck with it.”
The manner of the opener baffled most inside the Balmoral Stadium. Soares Junior had met Lee Connolly’s cross with a header and while McKenzie did fumble the ball against the post, the ball did not cross the line.
However despite Cove protestations, referee Scott Lambie awarded the goal.
But to their credit the players did not let the injustice hold them back. Minutes later, after Harry Milne was chopped down, Vigurs whipped a free-kick over the wall beyond Sol Brynn.
“He’s made a decision. We had a look at it at half-time and it wasn’t over the line,” said Hartley. “He’s made a choice and for me he hasn’t made the right choice.
“Their mentality was good. They didn’t get too down after that and came back well. That’s what the players have got in abundance: a really good spirit amongst them. They didn’t want to lose.”
“He’s been good the last month or so,” added Hartley. “I’ve been really pleased (with Vigurs). “It’s good technique and we know he’s got that.
“McAllister does what he does best, in terms of scoring goals.”
The second goal was not much more pleasant from a Cove perspective, with Paton meeting Alex Cooper’s corner at the back post and his header creeping under McKenzie’s body.
Queens were reduced to 10 men when defender Rolando Nditi was given a straight red for hacking down McAllister and while Cove cranked up the pressure, it appeared the equaliser was not going to come.
Mitch Megginson flashed a shot wide and Brynn denied Jamie Masson with two superb saves, until McAllister popped up in the 90th minute to rattle in the equaliser.
The two sides will now do it again a week on Tuesday at Palmerston, for a place in the fourth round.
“Every game is tough in this cup but we’ll go there and try be positive again,” said Hartley. “We’ll regroup and try get a good squad together.”