A moment of magic from midfielder Graeme Rodger was enough to earn Formartine United victory against Inverurie Locos and a place in the second round of the Highland League Cup.
The Pitmedden side have reached the last three finals of the competition, beating Fraserburgh 2-1 in 2018 and losing against Cove Rangers in 2017 and last season.
Saturday’s encounter was the second meeting between United and Locos at North Lodge Park within a fortnight, with the visitors hoping to emulate the 2-1 victory they recorded earlier this month.
But Rodger’s strike 11 minutes from time helped the hosts gain revenge and set up a second round showdown with Forres Mechanics at Mosset Park.
Formartine player-manager Paul Lawson said: “I felt we deserved the win.
“We played some good football and nullified their threat, although Kevin Main made some good saves to keep us in it.
“The most pleasing thing was the reaction we got from the boys following the last game against Locos.
“We defended well. Stuart Smith came in at centre-half and was excellent alongside Darryn Kelly.
“It was Jonny Crawford’s first game back in a long time and he showed great fitness.
“Having Wayne Mackintosh in the side was crucial to winning the battle in midfield and I thought Garry Wood led the line very well.
“I could say good things about everyone all over the park but Graeme Rodger deserves a special mention. He covered every blade of grass and fully deserved his goal, which was a great finish.”
Formartine created the game’s first opening with Locos goalkeeper Andy Reid turning a Scott Lisle header around the post before Locos almost profited when some slack defending at the other end allowed Ryan Stott to race clear on goal only to drag his effort wide.
The hosts enjoyed the bulk of possession in the first half and went close again when Garry Wood fizzed a powerful effort from 25 yards over the crossbar.
Locos upped the ante after the break with Sam Burnett going close with a curling effort that was tipped over by Kevin Main before the visitors almost fell behind when a Rodger cross was headed inches over his own crossbar by Ryan Broadhurst.
Locos then went agonisingly close on the hour mark after some strong running from the impressive Neil McLean gave Neil Gauld a glimpse of goal but his low drive was superbly saved by Main.
The winning goal eventually arrived after 79 minutes and it proved worth the wait with Rodger afforded too much space on the edge of the Locos penalty area to expertly curl the ball beyond Andy Reid.
Inverurie Locos boss Andy Low said: “We created a heap of chances but goalkeepers were on top.
“The one bit of real quality in the game came from Graeme Rodger.
“They were a little bit more composed in possession than we were. We had more chances but Kevin Main was probably their best player and Andy Reid was probably our best player.
“It was just one of those games with two teams cancelling each other out.”