PICTURE SPECIAL: Buckie Thistle celebrate Utilita Highland League Cup victory
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JUBILANT Buckie Thistle boss Graeme Stewart admitted his players were "buzzing" after an "unbelievable" performance to reach the final of the Utilita Highland League Cup in their first competitive game in seven months.
"That's why we are playing football for games like that," he said after a 4-3 penalty shootout victory at Dudgeon Park against league champions Brora Rangers.
"They are the best team in the Highland League and we have gone to Brora and won in their own back yard. It shows how far we have come and that will give our boys a lot of confidence.
"I expected us to play well and I fancied us today as we have played well in pre-season.
"I have the best squad since I have been manager here and we showed that we can compete."
Stevie Ross fired Buckie into an early lead but Bjorn Wagnaar levelled in the second half.
Extra-time saw Jack Murray head the Jags into a 2-1 lead before Hamish Munro was red carded for hauling down Paul Brindle and Greg Macdonald took the game to penalties with a late equaliser.
"A few things went against us, losing Lewis Mackinnon with a hamstring injury in 90 minutes and then Hamish getting sent off, although it was a good decision to take the boy down," added Stewart.
"Their equaliser took a deflection so when it went to penalties and we missed our first one, you maybe thought it wasn't going to be our day, but we held our nerve."
Buckie will be missing Mackinnon and Munro for the final against Rothes at Kynoch Park on Saturday, and Stewart reckons Rothes go into the game as favourites.
"If we show the same character as we did today," said Stewart, "then we have every chance."
The Buckie boss praised Brora for their organisation on the day, ensuring all Covid-19 requirements were met.
"We had a massive area to change in which ensured we could keep our distance but I was also able to give a good team talk. Most our team talks pre-season have been done outdoors because of coronavirus regulations."
Both semi-finals were live-streamed, with fans able to pay to view the games. The final at Kynoch Park will also be live streamed with fans still unable to attend games due to the pandemic.