Dunfermline Athletic made eight changes to their team but still were strong enough to cruise past Highland League Champions Buckie Thistle with an impressive display which left boss Allan Johnston delighted after the game.
“It was to good to get the boys who haven’t been involved some extra game time,” he said.
“It was a really professional performance. This is a hard place to go, we knew that from the game last year. We couldn’t take anything for granted but we controlled the game from start to finish.
“It was really comfortable. We scored three goals in the first half and should have scored a few more in the second half but the keeper pulled off a few good saves. At times we were passing through them at will.”
There was an early warning for the Moray side from Scott Lochead that Daniel Bell did well to tip over the bar. It was clear the Pars were looking to take an early stranglehold on the game and they duly got the opener in the seventh minute.
Joe Cardle created space on the left before delivering a perfect cross for Nicky Clark, who ghosted in to head home with ease. Andy Ryan was then denied by Bell in the 12th minute before the home team’s first effort of note saw a Kevin Fraser drive deflected away for a corner.
It was 2-0 in the 34th minute when a free-kick by Aaron Splaine was headed back across the face of goal by Lee Ashcroft and once again the clever movement of Clarke led him to the right place at the right time to apply the finish.
The tie was over as a contest when Ryan netted the third just five minutes later, glancing home a whipped Fraser Aird delivery. It was no more than the Pars deserved.
While Dunfermline failed to add to the scoring in the second half they continued to dominate the match.
Lochead was destined not to score and he crashed the rebound from his own effort on to the crossbar with Bell beaten.
Ryan should have added a fourth when he was sent in on goal but his angled effort was saved by the legs of the Buckie stopper.
Johnston added: “Everybody is pushing for places and you can see the competition we have up front where everybody is scoring goals.”