Ryan McRitchie was delighted to be the match-winner as Rothes defeated Brora Rangers 2-1 to win the North of Scotland Cup for the third time in their history.
The defender’s 77th minute header made the difference in the showpiece at Grant Park, Lossiemouth as the Speysiders repeated their victories of 1959 and 1979 in this competition.
McRitchie, 22, said: “We’re delighted, it was a bit tricky in the first half with the wind and we didn’t keep much possession at all.
“But in the second half we improved and we had the wind in our favour which was a factor as well.
“It was fantastic to get the winner for the club.
“It’s been a lot of years since Rothes won this competition and being part of it is amazing.”
New deals celebrated with another trophy
Prior to the final Rothes manager Ross Jack and assistant Jim Walker signed new contracts to remain at Mackessack Park until the summer of 2025.
The duo then guided the Moray club to their second piece of silverware in less than a year, following the Highland League Cup success in October 2020.
Jack said: “I’m absolutely delighted. We didn’t play well first 45, we were under the cosh and Brora totally dominated.
“The half-time team talk was about staying in the game, there was no need to panic.
“Despite the possession Brora had first half we knew the wind would be a major factor.
“We got at them from the word go in the second half and it worked in our favour.
“You could see with the turnout of supporters what it meant to people.
“We won the League Cup last year when fans weren’t allowed in and they made up for it this time.
“There’s a lot gone on behind the scenes before we came to the club and the success is testament to the people who worked so hard to allow the club to be in this position to compete in cup finals.
“We’re delighted to stay, the players’ response has been great to what Jim and I have asked for.
“It’s all down to the players, Jim and I can coach and give instructions, but it’s down to them and they’ve been outstanding since we came in.”
Cattachs start well but are pegged back
Brora dominated the first half and Jordan MacRae cracked a 25 yard shot against the crossbar on 13 minutes.
But four minutes later the Cattachs did take the lead with Matthew Wright applying the finish at near post from John Pickles’ right-wing cross after neat build-up play involving Pickles, Tom Kelly and MacRae.
Rothes’ only first half effort of note was a McRitchie header over from Alan Pollock’s chipped cross.
Pollock shot just wide from 25 yards 45 seconds into the second period and was involved in the Speysiders’ equaliser in the 48th minute.
His short corner on the left teed up Allen Mackenzie to cross to the back post and when McRitchie played the ball back across goal Michael Finnis bundled home from close range.
After the equaliser Mackenzie blazed over from a promising position and for Brora Ali Sutherland stabbed a shot wide.
But the winning goal arrived with 13 minutes when when McRitchie headed Pollock’s floated corner from the right into the bottom right corner.
Disappointment for Campbell
Brora manager Craig Campbell said: “Losing any cup final is a sore one. I don’t like losing any game, but losing a cup final is tougher.
“It wasn’t acceptable for our standards, especially in the second half.
“I thought Rothes outfought us and we huffed and puffed in the second half without really creating any clear-cut chances.
“I’m bitterly disappointed with the way things went.
“Jordan had a shot off the crossbar and we played some nice stuff in the first half.
“Our goal was a great football goal in the way we worked it.
“At 1-0 it’s not enough you need to go out and get the second goal, don’t give the opposition any encouragement at the start of the second half.
“And we did the total opposite and that’s bitterly disappointing.
“Credit to Rothes they were hungry and I think they deserved to win it without creating too many chances.
“It was two set pieces which is defensively weak from us.”