Inverurie Locos secured IRN-BRU Cup football for next season with a 2-1 win over Brora Rangers.
A Neil Gauld penalty – their 100th goal of the season – and Chris Angus’ second-half finish means even though Locos only have one game remaining, they are 11 points clear of Forres Mechanics in fifth, who only have three games remaining.
Gavin Morrison’s superb leveller had taken Brora in level at the break before Angus’ decisive contribution.
Brora were only able to name a squad of 14, which included manager Ross Tokely in the starting 11. Locos brought in Ryan Broadhurst for captain Neil McLean in their only change from the 1-0 win against Turriff United.
It took 27 minutes for the hosts to threaten the Brora goal, with Mark Souter’s raking diagonal ball latched on to by Martin Laing, who whistled an attempt just wide of the far upright.
But they were presented with a much simpler chance on 30 minutes and gratefully took it. Tokely came careering through the back of Gauld in the area and the striker did the business himself, sending Joe Malin the wrong way from the penalty spot to bring up the Locos team century.
The best chance for the visitors came from Kyle MacLeod’s glancing header, which looked to be sneaking inside the post before a wondrous save from Andy Reid kept Locos in front.
Angus missed a glorious chance to double the lead before the break, turning wide in front of an open goal.
Morrison struck superbly to level the scores with four minutes left in the half as James Ross’ cross broke to him on the edge of the area and he crashed a half-volley into the bottom corner.
After a cagey start to the second half for both sides, Jordan Leyden tore away from Jamie Duff and left Malin stranded with a left –footed effort that rolled past the far post.
Angus restored Locos’ lead just before the hour, beating the offside trap to race on to a through ball from Joe McCabe and poke beyond Malin into the far corner.
Brora centre half Mark Nicolson saw a powerful strike from Morrison’s corner blocked as the visitors sought an immediate response, with Tokely now substituted and back in the dugout.
Angus had a penalty appeal turned down after tangling with Duff and Locos were throwing bodies on the line at the other end to preserve their lead. But despite a flurry of balls forward by the Cattachs, they failed to force another save out of Andy Reid.