BUCKIE THISTLE 3 KEITH 3 (A.E.T. KEITH WON 5-4 ON PENALTIES)
Half-time - 2-2
Scorers - Buckie Thistle - Cheyne(20), MacKinnon(45, 63).
Keith - C Keith(31 pen, 39, 90 pen).
Keith can thank their own "Young Cook" as 20 year old Johnny Cook fired home the winning penalty kick to spoil holders Buckie's broth, and send the Maroons into their 23rd Highland League Cup semi-final last Saturday at Victoria Park reports Charlie Simpson.
The Maroons have won the League Cup more times than anybody else, and Nairn County now stand between them and a 12th Cup Final place.
This quarter final tie was hardly a classic between two sides with such a magnificent League Cup pedigree, but it was certainly all action with six goals in normal time, a flurry of yellow cards, two red cards for the Jags, a retaken penalty, another penalty four minutes into stoppage time sending the game in extra-time, and a penalty shoot-out that had the nerve ends jangling like taut guitar strings. Oh, and of course a super hat-trick from skipper and centre forward Cammy Keith, leading by example throughout.
It all began with the opener in the 20th minute, a terrific 18 yarder from Jay CHEYNE, that fired the Jags in front. The Maroons were looking decidedly off colour at this stage, but they dragged themselves level eleven minutes later. Bob Duncan held Cammy KEITH inside the penalty area, and the striker saw his surprisingly weak effort easily held by Kevin Main. However, he got a second bite at the cherry when the referee ordered a re-take as Lewis MacKinnon had encroached. Cammy made no mistake the second time around.
Six minutes from the break, a powerful Kris Niddrie challenge saw hIm win the ball, and fire a through ball into Cammy KEITH'S path. Well, the No:9 didn't break stride as he blasted a superb volley into the net with Main rooted to the spot. Unfortunately, in keeping with the day's proceedings, the Maroons failed to clear a Dean Donaldson corner and MACKINNON pounced to whip home the equaliser from the edge of the box, right on the stroke of half-time.
Buckie were in charge after the break, and with 63 minutes gone key man MACKINNON hoofed the into the roof of the net from close, when yet again the visiting rearguard failed to clear at a cost.
Cammy Keith thought he'd levelled again in the 75th minute when he stretched to hook the ball goalwards, only for MacKinnon to clear at the last gasp. Right away at the other end, and the game now gathering momentum, the ball crashed back off the post. Phew, a sigh of relief in the Keith camp.
The first red card came in the 85th minute, when Shaun Scott only on the park for five minutes lashed out with both feet at McNamee. Barely a minute later, Donnie Munro had the ideal chance to seal Buckie's passage into the last four, but somehow fired straight at Kinnaird from 12 yards.
Keith were surely down and out as the seconds ticked away, then as dramatic a finish as you could ever see transpired. Four minutes of stoppage time played, and Andy Macaskill was sent crashing inside the penalty area by MacKinnon. A second yellow card for the pivot, and more importantly for the visitors the last chance to send the game into extra-time. This time, Cammy KEITH gave Main no chance as he jubilantly crashed home his hat-trick, his 28th goal of the season.
To add fuel to the fire as it were, the three match officials decided to leave the field of play before the commencement of the extra-time, presumably for a toilet break.
Anyway, the thirty minute period saw the Maroons fail to ram home their two man advantage, and so to the dreaded penalty kick shoot out. Even then, it was difficult to separate the sides with Shaun Carrol and Dean Donaldson netting for Buckie, Cammy Keith and Andy Macaskill converting for the Maroons. Murray Kinnaird brilliantly saved Iain MaCrae's shot, but then Murray Mculloch struck the foot of the post with his effort. Rob Duncan skied over for Buckie, and Gary McNamee skied even further over! Stuart Hodge rattled his Buckie effort home, and Craig Phillips confidently slotted his kick beyond the goalie. Darren Shand kept the pot boiling with this shot, and 20 year old Andy Smith did likewise for the Maroons. It was coming down to the nitty grittys now and Murray Kinnaird was a Keith hero, brilliantly saving Shaun Wood's attempt.
All eyes now on young Cook, who only had three substitute appearances under his belt this season. Well, he stepped up like a seasoned pro and had the Keith contingent going wild when he bulged the old onion bag with his kick, firing the Maroons into that last four spot.
Oh, and apart from all the drama on the park, the snow had come on as well!!
BUCKIE THISTLE - Main, S Wood, Duncan, Cheyne(Shand 87), MacKinnon, Macrae, Donaldson, Munro, N Smith(Scott 80), Sutherland(Hodge 90), Carrol. Subs unused - Simpson, D Wood.
KEITH - Kinnaird, Phillips, Walker(Hutcheon 70), NcNamee, Niddrie, Raffell, McCulloch, A Macaskill, C Keith, J Smith(Cook 99), C Macaskill(A Smith 96). Subs unused - jack, Horne.
Referee - Mr C Spence.