A MORAY derby awaits Forres Mechanics in the Highland League Cup semi-final after a 2-1 win over Clachnacuddin at Mosset Park last night.
Goals from Paul Brindle and Dale Wood secured a hard-fought win for Steven Macdonald’s side.
The Cans will host Buckie Thistle, who beat Inverurie Loco Works 1-0, on March 12 as they bid for a first cup final in a decade.
“It was a cup tie and you have to get out of it,” Steven Macdonald said. “We got a little hung up at the end but it happens.
“There were so many positives to take. I was really pleased with the solidarity of the players.
“If they start showing that will to win throughout the games and playing at that pace, everything will be fine.
“Buckie is a semi-final so it continues, it continues the season and gives us something to look forward to.”
Quarter-final day got off to the worst possible start for the mechanics when they learned they would be left without five players – all players signed since December – due to registration issues.
That meant a full 90 minutes for young Jack Craib, as well as twins Lee and Graham Fraser who had just returned from vacation.
But it was the mechanics who started the brightest, with Allan MacPhee passing nearly 35 yards out after Clach keeper Martin Mackinnon rushed off his line to clear a ball over the top.
The deserved lead came in the 26th minute thanks to a superb finish from Paul Brindle. The striker controlled Owen Paterson’s cross with his knee before flipping it acrobatically with an overhead kick.
The hosts didn’t have long to wait to double the lead. After Joe Gauld’s shot was blocked for a corner, Callum Johnston’s dangerous set-piece was cleared to Dale Wood to score his first Cans goal.
At the end of what was almost a perfect 45 minutes for Forres, Clach got back to level.
A cross from Riley Mackenzie trumped Forres keeper Lee Herbert and landed at the far post for Connor Bunce to bring home and half the deficit.
The second half brought few chances either way, with Forres coming best on the hour mark when Dale Wood headed in another dangerous corner from Callum Johnston at the far post.
Clach put on the pressure in the final five minutes, Herbert having to be vigilant to snatch Lewis Mackenzie’s cross away from under the crossbar, but Mechanics continued to push forward.
Macdonald added: “We played very well in the first half. It was actually pretty much the perfect half, but we ruined it with that goal just at half time.
“It made the second half more nervous, when at 2-0 we would have been comfortable.
“In a cup tie you have to show the will to pass and we did that.”
Mechanics are due to take on Inverurie Loco Works at Mosset Park this weekend, ahead of a league game with Brora Rangers next Wednesday.
They will again be without centre-back Ruari Fraser (calf), Tom Brady (hamstring) and Jack Brown (head) for Saturday.
However, there will be a fuller squad with new Inverness loan signings Caley Thistle Kenny Macinnes and Ben Barron in line to make their debuts.