Blackburn United boss Mark Campbell admitted he was 'gutted but hugely proud' after their late Scottish Cup first round defeat at home to Highland League outfit Rothes.
United, playing at this stage of the competition for the first time in the club's history, conceded in the 90th minute as they went down 2-1 in front of a bumper crowd of around 300 at the Purdie Worldwide Community Stadium.
Andy McQuillan had given the hosts a 16th minute lead with a smart, sweeping strike after a defensive mistake but the visitors enjoyed near total control of the second half and eventually made it count. Fraser Robertson fired home from close range on 62 minutes before Lewis Hyde slotted home just as the game ticked into injury-time for the winner.
Despite the defeat, Campbell said there were plenty of positives and said the support from the local community was 'overwhelming'.
He commented: "I'm gutted but hugely proud of the boys. It's a really hard one to take losing at that stage of the game but they gave me everything they could.
"We had some key players missing and who knows what would have happened if it was a fully available squad, or we took them to the replay and had everyone back. We should have held on for the draw but it's hard to fault the guys after the performance they put in.
"We got ourselves in front after a brilliant finish by Andy and I said to them at half-time to just keep doing what they were doing but Rothes are a quality side and they showed that in the second half. When we played football, I thought we were dangerous but we stopped down that to the same extent in the second half. The equaliser was deserved but it's just a really sore one to take losing so late on. Hopefully we can go one step further next year but we wish Rothes all the best in the competition."
He added: "It was really humbling and overwhelming to see the size of the crowd. I really want to thank them for turning up and supporting us because it means everything. The whole community bought into the occasion and the players gave them everything. Hopefully there's a few who have seen us and will be wanting to come back and help us push further up the table."
United got off to a fast start against their opponents, who have opened the Highland League season with an eight game unbeaten run. They almost took the lead seven minutes in when a Laurie Devine cross was deflected onto the bar by Rothes defender Michael Finnis with McQuillan heading over the bar from the resulting corner-kick.
McQuillan would make no mistake less than 10 minutes later when he made the most of some poor defending to fire across Sean McCarthy and into the bottom corner for the opening goal.
Rothes would settle into the game following the slow start but a resolute United defensive display limited them to half-chances in the first-half with a Ryan McRitchie header from a corner that went wide being the closest they came to levelling things up. At the other end, McQuillan broke clear but lacked the pace to outrun the defence while both David Howe and Calum Heath fired straight at the keeper from distance.
The second-half was near total one-way traffic in favour of the away side. Craig Saunders produced a tremendous save on 54 minutes to deny Ali Stark when he raced through on the right while the dangerous Craig Cormack and Bruce Milne both went close.
It appeared to be just a matter of time before the equaliser and it duly arrived on 62 minutes when Cormack's great play on the left flank led to Robertson rolling the ball into the net from close range. Cormack almost headed his side in front three minutes later from a corner-kick while Ross Gunn also went fired just wide moments later.
Having been under the cosh for some time, United began to get a foothold back into the game with the pattern of play being two resolute defences with chances now at a premium.
A goalmouth scramble nine minutes from time could easily have seen United turn the ball home for the lead but it wasn't to be and with a replay seeming certain, Rothes struck with Hyde, on the park a mere five minutes, proving to be the match-winner as he tapped home at the back post.
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