Fraserburgh manager Mark Cowie was delighted to move a step closer to Breedon Highland League title glory with victory against Rothes.
The Broch triumphed 3-1 at Mackessack Park to remain a point clear of Buckie Thistle at the top of the table.
Fraserburgh face Nairn County at Bellslea on Saturday before tackling Forres Mechanics on April 16, also at home – win both games and they will be champions.
Boss Cowie said: “I’m delighted with the result and the performance was good as well.
“The main thing is it’s in our hands and if we win two home games we’ve done it.
“But we also know that Buckie are not going away. Brechin are out of it now, so it’s us and Buckie and they won’t budge.
“They’re in the League Cup final this weekend so we need to make sure we put in a performance to give ourselves the best chance of winning and put a wee bit of pressure on them.
“The pressure has been on us up to now, so hopefully we can try to reverse that.
“But we know if we make one slip up Buckie will make us pay. If we were scraping wins and being lucky, I’d be more concerned.
“But we’re playing well and getting wins, which is pleasing and the guys deserve the credit for it – but there’s two big games to go.
“Nairn and Forres are two good sides who can cause anybody problems.”
Formidable away record
Victory against Rothes also completed a remarkable season for Fraserburgh away from home.
In 17 league fixtures on the road, they are unbeaten – with 16 wins, while the only draw was against title rivals Buckie.
Cowie added: “I can’t complain about that, the main record just now is Buckie’s run, so our record maybe gets lost a wee bit.
“But it’s a great achievement, especially with the calibre of teams we’ve faced and all the tricky venues you have to go to.”
Broch make bright start
Fraserburgh made the breakthrough in freak fashion after seven minutes against Rothes.
Michael Finnis’ attempted clearance was blocked by Grant Campbell at the edge of the box and the ball flew beyond goalkeeper Iain Mackenzie into the left corner of the net.
The league leaders had started well and doubled their advantage on 33 minutes.
Mackenzie did well to tip Scott Barbour’s cross-cum-shot behind for a corner, but, from the resultant Barbour delivery, Sean Butcher headed home at the front post.
Two minutes later Rothes midfielder Gregg Main – who had been booked in the 28th minute for a foul on Lewis Duncan – received a second yellow card from referee Lee Robertson for dissent.
But being reduced to 10 men seemed to spur Rothes into action and they pulled a goal back in the 37th minute with Alan Pollock’s corner headed down by Ryan McRitchie for Greg Morrison to glance into the net from close range.
Early in the second half, Mackenzie made a flying save to repel Duncan’s header and keep the home side in the game.
Midway through the second period Butcher played in Paul Campbell down the right, but, with Barbour waiting inside the six-yard box for a cutback, Campbell blazed a shot over.
But, on 70 minutes, Barbour did score. Butcher’s flick again released Paul Campbell on the right and this time he squared the ball and provided Barbour with a tap-in.
‘The better team won’
Rothes boss Ross Jack said: “The better team won. The team with more desire won and you can see why they’re challenging for the championship.
“They contested everything better than we did.
“OK the first goal is a fluke.
“Did the sending off change the game? Slightly, but not a great deal. We only really started to react when we were down to 10 men and by that stage it was too late.”
When asked for his view on Main’s dismissal, Jack added: “I’ll keep that to myself. There were a few strange goings on, but I’ll keep that to myself.”