IT was always going to be a tall order (writes Alan Ducat).
To be in with any chance of a major cup upset Forfar Athletic had to be on the very top of their game, make the minimum of mistakes and hope that Aberdeen were a shade off colour when the two sides locked horns at Station Park on Saturday.
But the Loons did make mistakes and the premier league capitalised, scoring twice before the break and netting another brace before the end, to run out comfortable victors.
Things may have been a tad more tougher for the dandy Dons had Forfar not shipped that second goal late in the first half.
Playing with wind advantage in the second period they could have given it a real go.
Dick Campbell’s men did enjoy their best spell of the game in the early stages of the second half, but once Aberdeen had notched a third it was game well and truly over.
The Forfar manager did concede that the goals conceded in the first half could have been avoided.
“They were bad goals to lose from our point of view, but it is something we have been doing all season.”
As for the few chances that fell to his side, the manager also felt Forfar could have done better.
“I can’t see how Chris (Templeman) doesn’t shoot across the goalie,” Campbell said afterwards. “Stevie Wonder could see that was the right thing to do.
“Four-nil flatters Craig’s team, but credit to them, they were better than us.”
While Forfar were left to reflect on what might have been had they kept things a little more tight at the back in that opening period, the game itself was more than a worthwhile exercise as far as the club is concerned - for it gave the finances a shot in the arm at a time when every penny counts.
Club officials were quick to recognise the part the community played in making sure everything went like clockwork on the day.
“The directors of Forfar Athletic Football Club would like to thank the superb band of volunteers who assisted in the staging of Saturday’s cup tie with Aberdeen,” said secretary David McGregor.
“Behind the scenes the arrangements on all fronts ran like clockwork and the assistance given by so many on the day is so much appreciated.
“Many of those involved assist on a match by match basis, but it is such a benefit that so many extra helpers can be called upon for higher profile fixtures.
“The directors would also like to thank near neighbours Lawrie & Symington, Strathmore Foods and Angus Care & Repair, who all provided parking facilities on the day.
“Despite the result the revenue from the fixture will give the club a little ‘breathing space’ on the financial front as the season progresses and, by all accounts, quite a few local hostelries and other businesses benefited from the large influx of fans from the Granite City and beyond.”
Looking back on the match, the one thing the fans didn’t want was to concede to the Dons early.
Playing with wind advantage, Aberdeen soon had Forfar under a fair bit of pressure, with Scott Vernon testing goalkeeper Greg Paterson with an early shot.
At the other end, Martyn Fotheringham tried his luck from distance but his effort was high and wide.
Aberdeen were forced into two early substitutions, first Pawlett and then Osaac Osbourne going off injured, to be replaced by Chris Clark and Rory Fallon.
Amidst all the changes, Rory McArdle thought he had given the visitors the lead with a headed effort from a free-kick, but up went the offside as the ball hit the back of the net.
There were a couple of close things in front of the Forfar goal, Chris Templeman firing over the top after a great run by Dale Hilson deep into the Dons area.
Soon after, Ross Campbell picked out Chris Templeman with a superb through ball, the Forfar striker firing into the side netting from an acute angle.
The home side had managed to get to the half-hour mark without conceding, but that all changed in the very next minute.
Kari Arnason, captaining Aberdeen following Richard Foster’s departure, launched a long throw-in into the danger area and Vernon connected well to beat Paterson.
Ten minutes later and Forfar were two-down to a goal that could so easily have been avoided.
When Marc McCulloch misjudged the flight of the ball, it fell kindly for Mohamed Chalali, who burst through on goal, drew the keeper and coolly place it wide of his left hand and into the empty net.
The goal left the Loons with a mountain to climb in the second period, but, having weathered an early storm when first Fallon head just off target from a Fraser Fyvie cross and then Chalali had his shot well saved by Paterson, Forfar enjoyed perhaps their best spell of the game.
They played some neat football in a bid to get in behind the Dons defence, and the best chance of pulling a goal back came when Chris Templeman smashed a volley at goal only for keeper Jason Brown to save well.
Had the ball hit the back of the net it may have been game on, but it was all over as a contest in 71 minutes when a Vernon cross was flicked on by Chalali and met by Rory fallon at the back post, the header well-placed beyond Paterson into the back of the net. Soon after, Dick Campbell rang the changes, with David Mowat, Greg Ross and Chris Templeman being replaced by Kevin Motion, Kevin Byers and Graham Gibson.
And, with seven minutes left, the Dons wrapped things up with a fourth goal.
Mitch Megginson, who had replaced Chalali moments earlier, latched on to a Jack header before evading Paterson and rolling the ball into the empty net.
Now, with any cup aspirations over for another year, Forfar Athletic must now concentrate on getting themselves out of a hole in the Scottish second division.
The bid to prise themselves from the basement slot they currently find themselves in starts on Saturday, with a trip to Stenhousemuir.
The Loons are next at home on Saturday, January 21, when Cowdenbeath are in town.
Forfar Athletic - Paterson, Ross (Byers), I. Campbell, Tulloch, Mowat (Motion), Wilson, Fotheringham, Templeman (Gibson), R. Campbell and Hilson.
Aberdeen - Brown, McArdle, Reynolds, Robertson, Arnason, Pawlett (Clark), Osbourne (Fallon), Fyvie, Jack, Vernon and Chalali (Megginson).
Referee - Brian Colvin; crowd - 3,747.