Brora Rangers’ Scottish Cup fairytale is finally over after they were defeated 4-0 by Premiership side Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
The Cattachs put on a brave showing and held their own in the game until Aaron Tshibola’s 42nd-minute opener, with Kris Boyd, Eamonn Brophy and Stephen O’Donnell adding further strikes in the second half.
Fitness had begun to tell by the latter stages, however, with the Cattachs having every reason to be proud of their showing against full-time opponents.
Brora striker Zander Sutherland felt it was a day for the Cattachs players to enjoy, along with the 413 supporters who travelled south.
Sutherland said: “It’s a proud moment for the club, myself and my family – a great occasion. I’m from Helmsdale so I knew pretty much everybody in the stand.
“The run has made a massive difference in our changing room. We have been disappointing in the league but it has galvanised us.
“The run has been fantastic and the journeys home on the bus have been great.”
The 30-year-old, who started his career with Caley Thistle, relished the opportunity to test himself against full-time opponents, adding: “It was physically demanding as I only train once a week. Trying to get my legs going was quite difficult – and they are full-time so they’re used to this sort of pace.
“You obviously get a bit of motivation, you’ve got a wee bit more in you going away to a Premiership side.”
The Cattachs were courageous in possession in the first half against a thriving Killie team who defeated champions Celtic the previous weekend, and enjoyed some neat exchanges on the counter-attack.
They created half-chances in the opening period and looked like they would hold firm until half-time.
However their resolve was cruelly broken on 42 minutes when Greg Kiltie waltzed past the Brora defence, with his cutback evading goalkeeper Joe Malin to leave Tshibola with an easy tap-in – ending the Cattachs’ run of 402 minutes without conceding in the tournament.
The visitors emerged brightly after the restart, with Sutherland’s menacing corner nearly turned into his own net by Gary Dicker, but Killie all but ended the contest on 58 minutes.
Jamie Duff’s loose pass was intercepted by Dicker, whose quick ball forward put Boyd clean through to provide a clinical 16-yard finish past Malin.
Brophy struck a sweet third on 77 minutes before O’Donnell drilled home six minutes later, with the Cattachs unable to salvage a consolation when substitute Paul Brindle was inches from connecting with John Pickles’ cross.
Killie manager Steve Clarke praised Ross Tokely’s men and said: “I’ve got to give Brora credit, they made it difficult as we knew they would, so we just had to keep chipping away.”