Raith Rovers midfielder Ryan McCord was relieved to progress to the next round of the Scottish Cup after surviving a late scare in Elgin on Saturday.
McCord’s first half penalty and a strike from Grant Anderson early in the second half had put the visitors 2-0 up against the League Two side, who were unbeaten at Borough Briggs this season.
However, Raith’s recent trend of losing late goals continued as Elgin sub Jordan Halsman struck in the 90th minute to ensure a nervous last few moments for the Championship side.
“Our name’s in the hat so it’s job done,” McCord said. “I know how hard it is to come up here.
“It’s the first win I’ve had here – I’ve been hammered every time I’ve been here.
“I’m just glad we were professional and worked hard.
“It should’ve been more with the chances we had – we just need to be more clinical.
“Getting the second goal calmed things down, except for the last two minutes when we crumbled and were up against it again.
“It’s maybe just a mental thing but we seen it out so that’s a positive.
“It’s a cup game so the performance didn’t really matter, we’re just glad to get through.”
McCord’s goal was his second spot kick of the season, the previous strike coming against Livingston on the opening day of the league campaign.
“Last night the boys were saying we’ve not had many penalties this season and it’s funny how it works out that we get one today,” he said.
“Lewis Vaughan was on them in pre-season and he got injured. I used to take them at Alloa so I thought I’d just step up.
“Whoever keeps scoring penalties usually takes them. James Craigen was wanting to take it but if he missed I’d have got it in the ear from the manager at half-time, so I just made sure I took it.”
Raith recalled David Bates from his loan at Brechin and he took his place at right back in an injury-hit Raith defence.
The Fifers had good control of the game in the first half almost took the lead on 29 minutes when Mark Stewart’s effort was saved by Stewart Black and Scott Robertson stabbed the rebound over a gaping goal.
Rovers were handed a chance to open their account seven minutes before the break when Craigen was pushed in the back by Brian Cameron as he raced into the box and referee George Salmond pointed to the spot. McCord stepped up to confidently send Black the wrong way from 12 yards.
Kevin Cuthbert had little to do in the first half but the Raith ‘keeper had to be at his best two minutes after the restart to keep out Craig Gunn’s close range effort.
The home side had made a bright start to the second half but Rovers hit them with a sucker punch on 53 minutes.
Stewart saw an effort pushed over the bar by Black but the resultant corner was only partially cleared and Anderson fired the ball through a crowd past the Elgin keeper from 18 yards.
Cuthbert made another excellent save as Elgin caught Raith on the break approaching the hour mark, stretching out his leg to divert Cameron’s effort wide.
With plenty possession and a few half chances to extend their lead, Raith appeared to be heading comfortably into the fourth round until they conceded in the last minute.
A long ball forward skimmed off the head of defender Kyle Benedictus and landed perfectly for Halsman to fure past Cuthbert.
Incredibly, Raith almost conceded again within 60 seconds as a deep cross found Cameron racing into the box but Cuthbert came to rescue by clutching his side-foot effort on the line to seal Rovers’ victory.
Raith boss Ray McKinnon was glad to overcome a potential banana skin.
“They’ve got a great record at home this season and have got a very good young side so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” he said.
“Again, 2-0 should have been four or five and we need to learn to punish these teams, because we were miles ahead of them. They’ve made us sweat at the end and Cat’s made a few great saves to let us proceed to the next round.
“We’ve had a tough week, losing late goals against St Mirren, Dumbarton, and again today, so it’s maybe just a mental thing. The boys were a bit frazzled in the last five, but it’s a good result.”