Brora Rangers player-manager Steven Mackay felt his side passed up an opportunity to spring a Scottish Cup shock as they went down 3-1 to Greenock Morton in last night’s third round replay.
Brora had set up the replay by claiming a spirited 1-1 draw at Cappielow in the initial tie last month, however their full-time opponents proved too strong for them at the second attempt, with David Hopkin’s men advancing to face St Johnstone away in the next round.
The Cattachs were guilty of slack defending which allowed Ton to take a first half lead through Reece Lyon, before quickfire goals from Jim McAlister and Nicky Cadden virtually killed off the tie within the opening eight minutes of the second half.
Although Colin Williamson pulled back a goal for Brora, who were watched by a crowd of 497, Mackay rued the costly mistakes which prevented his side running Ton closer.
With the Cattachs three points clear at the top of the Highland League, Mackay hopes his side can continue their charge towards silverware going.
Mackay said: “We told the lads to be very proud of the achievement from a couple of weeks ago.
“It would have just been nice to finish the job – I thought there was an opportunity there.
“There was a lot of build up and anticipation for the game, but I just don’t think we gave as good an account of ourselves as we could have.
“We have had a pretty impressive run of results and sometimes you need a little reality check now and again just to refocus you.
“It’s not that the boys were ever out of focus, but we have a Highland League Cup tie away to Huntly now which we will now focus on as well as the Highland League to get our teeth into.”
Morton looked intent on posing early danger with Robbie Muirhead at the heart of it, sidefooting an effort well wide from a promising position, before forcing Joe Malin to palm the ball to safety with an acrobatic effort.
Ton were gifted the lead on 19 minutes however, with Williamson not getting enough power on a header back to goalkeeper Malin, which allowed Lyon to nip in and slot into the empty net.
It was a cheap way to concede but Brora showed a spirited response to the setback and increasingly enjoyed some very neat spells in possession as the half wore on, however they struggled to seriously test Ton’s on-loan Aberdeen goalkeeper Rogers.
As long the Cattachs remained a solitary goal behind their belief at staging a fightback would remain intact, although their task was all but killed off inside the opening eight second half minutes as Ton added two quickfire goals.
The second arrived on 49 minutes when Luca Colville’s delightful pass released skipper McAlister behind the Cattachs defence, and he showed composure to send a cushioned finish past Malin.
Ton added another four minutes later, with Colville once again the supplier when he teed up Cadden to power a strike past Malin.
Brora salvaged a lifeline on 65 minutes when Williamson scrambled home from the edge of the six-yard box, but it was too little, too late for the Sutherland outfit.