There was no hiding Lochee United boss George Shields’ frustration after Auchinleck Talbot retrieved a first-leg single-goal deficit to reach the Scottish Junior Cup final.
Leading thanks to Connor Birse’s injury time goal in Ayrshire, two goals in as many minutes late in the game shattered Bluebells’ dreams.
A crowd of around 2,000 packed Thomson Park hoping to see the hosts reach their second final but it was the cup favourites and record 11 times winners of the competition who progressed.
Shields said: “It was desperately disappointing because we just didn’t turn up.
“Certainly, we showed none of the qualities which served us so well in the previous rounds.
“Auchinleck’s experience of these kind of games told in the end, but I feel that Beith, who we beat in the previous round, were a better side.
“Certainly they were more up for it and pressed us high up the park and never gave us any time on the ball.
“They played to their strengths with their long ball game.
“For some of our players it will probably be the last chance to reach the final and hopefully the others will learn from it.
“Probably the most disappointing thing was we didn’t deserve to go through because I can’t recall us having a shot on goal.”
Right from the kick-off, United were under the cosh, but were just 15 minutes away from achieving their objective.
As had been the case in the first leg, keeper Mark Fotheringham was a hero, pulling off a series of excellent stops, in particular a couple to keep out Dwayne Hyslop headers.
Early in the second half, the home goal had narrow escapes when efforts from Jamie Glasgow and Ross Harvey only just missed the target.
Bluebell forays forward were in short supply, though only William Lyle’s intervention prevented Grant Lawson from having a pop at goal.
Talbot’s pressure eventually told. With quarter of an hour left, Glasgow delivered a cross from which Hyslop powered home a header.
And two minutes later, Harvey stabbed home a Mark Shankland cross to stamp the visitors’ passport to their 14th final and an incredible ninth this millennium.
Despite the disappointment, Shields quickly pointed out the campaign was far from over.
He said: “We have 11 league games to go, starting with Jeanfield Swifts at home on Wednesday and then play Linlithgow Rose here on Saturday in the East of Scotland Cup and that is the second most important competition behind the Scottish.
“So we’ll have to get on with it and get the lads’ heads up at training tonight because there is still so much to play for.”