FORFAR Athletic had to rely on their expertise from the spot to clinch a place in the second round of the Ramsdens Cup at the expense of Highland League champs Buckie Thistle on Saturday.
After a hard fought 120 minutes the teams were locked at one-one - resulting in the lottery of a spot-kick shoot-out.
The Loons kept their nerve, slotting home all five penalty-kicks, and, while plucky Buckie matched them almost throughout, one excellent stop by goalkeeper Greg Paterson was enough to secure the home side’s passage into round two.
The match was never a classic, but no one could begrudge Forfar their victory.
While somewhat short of their best form, they were in command for most of the game, and, had they not conceded a sloppy goal so soon after taking the lead, they would probably have gone on to win handsomely.
The Loons went into the game short of a full squad. With Iain Campbell having picked up an injury in midweek, Jamie Bishop suspended for the cup-tie, Michael Bolochoweckyj on holiday and Ross Campbell on honeymoon, Dick Campbell had but 13 players at his disposal.
And, with no trialists allowed in the cup tourneys, he had to rely on a couple of youngsters from the Under-19 side to fill up the bench.
It was a strange day weatherwise. After all the recent wet weather, it was warm and dry, but there was a tricky wind to contend with, and that did not make it easy for the players.
However, Forfar settled quickly and Martyn Fotheringham raced clean through on the left, only to slip as he was about to pick out a colleague and the chance was lost.
Midway through the period, Graham Gibson almost laid claim to the club’s first competitive goal of the new campaign, rising to meet a Martyn Fotheringham and angle an effort wide of the goalkeeper, only for a defender to acrobatically clear off the goal-line.
Three minutes later and Gibson did grab the opener. Again Martyn Fothringham was involved, cutting in from the left and attempting to curl a shot beyond the goalkeeper.
The Buckie custodian got a hand to the ball, but could only deflect it into the path of Gibbie, who controlled before picking his spot from close range.
That should have settled any nerves in the home side - but they went and conceded five minutes later.
Buckie, in their first attack of menace, had the Loons defence at sixes and sevens, and Craig McMillan had all the time in the world to fasten on to a Paul Napier cross at the back stick and nod past the helpless Paterson.
The game developed in a war of attrition for a spell thereafter, as Forfar struggled to break down a well-marshalled Thistle defence.
And, for a short spell in the second period the visitors appeared to be getting the upper hand, that is until Forfar got back on the front foot.
Crawford saw a point blank effort saved by Main in the Buckie goal, the ball breaking for Templeton, who scooped it over the bar.
There was a heart-stopping moment when the Forfar keeper in trying to clear, blasted the ball off McMillan, but the Buckie striker couldn’t regain his composure enough to direct an effort on target.
With no sign of a goal in the closing 15 minutes of normal time, it was then into extra time.
Forfar’s best chance came in the first period of the added 30 minutes, David Mowatt racing through on goal, only to find Main in his way and the chance was gone.
Templeman then tricked his way into the box and had the goalkeeper well beaten with his cut-back, only for a defender to boot the ball clear of the danger area.
In the second period of extra time chances were few and far between, although Chris Hegarty, perhaps Forfar’s best player on the day, did manage to clip the bar with a deflected effort.
It was then on to the dreaded shoot-out, although Forfar fans need not have panicked.
On the first four occasions that Buckie netted Forfar replied, through Graham Gibson, Stevie Crawford, Chris Templeman and Kevin Byers.
And, when Greg Paterson dived to his right to palm away an effort from Lewis McKinnon, up stepped Marc McCulloch to blast home penalty number five for the Loons to seal that spot in round two of the Ramsdens Cup.
The Loons will certainly have to play much better when big spending Peterhead come to town this Saturday, although, in terms of player availability, Jamie Bishop, Michael Bolochoweckyj, Iain and Ross Campbell could all come back into contention.
Forfar Athletic - Paterson, Wilson, Ross, McCulloch, Tulloch, Hegarty, Gibson, Templeman, Fotheringham (Byers), Crawford and Motion (Mowat).
Buckie Thistle - Main, Shewan, Davidson, MacRae, MacKinnon, Morrison, Napier (Sutherland), Graeme Stewart, MacMillan, Charlesworth (Scott) and Low (Clark).
Referee - John Beaton; crowd - 416.