Brora Rangers 2-1 Hearts: Highland League PART-TIMERS celebrate one of the biggest shocks in Scottish Cup history by knocking out last season’s beaten finalists… in what was their first game in more than TWO months!
- Jordan MacRae opened the scoring for Highland League side in the 12th minute
- Christophe Berra equalised for the Championship leaders with 20 minutes to go
- But Martin MacLean scored the winner with a controlled finish in the 75th minute
- Brora Rangers will now face League Two side Stranraer in the third round
Brora Rangers pulled off one of the most remarkable shocks in Scottish Cup history by sending Hearts crashing out.
The ring-rusty Highland League side had played just one match in 2021 and just 10 competitively since the pandemic began, but the part-time heroes showed incredible energy, fitness and defiance to hold out against Robbie Neilson’s men.
When a stunning Jordan Macrae opener early on was eventually wiped out by Christophe Berra after 70 minutes, the Edinburgh giants should have finished the job.
Jordan MacRae opened the scoring for Brora Rangers in the 12th minute on Tuesday night
Brora: Malin, Kelly, Nicolson, Williamson, Macdonald, Wagenaar (Gregor MacDonald 82), Gillespie, Martin Maclean, Gamble (Morrison 65), Alex MacRae (Brindle 65), Jordan MacRae.
Subs Not Used: Stephen.
Booked: Kelly, Macdonald.
Goals: Jordan MacRae 12, Martin Maclean 75.
Hearts: Stewart, Haring, Berra, Halkett, White, McEneff (Henderson 59),Irving, Kastaneer (Boyce 46), Mackay-Steven, Gnanduillet, Walker.
Subs Not Used: Souttar, Zlamal, Frear, Popescu, McGill.
Goals: Berra 70.
Ref: Peter Stuart (Scotland).
Instead, Martin MacLean sent Brora Rangers back in front with a fantastic controlled finish watched by a small crowd of disbelieving locals watching from raised ground outside Dudgeon Park.
Brora Rangers manager Steven Mackay told BBC Scotland: ‘Just an incredible feeling. It’s the single biggest moment in my football career as a player and manager. I’m just so proud of the players and the performance.
‘I don’t think many who watched that game would have begrudged us that result.
‘Jordan MacRae got us the goal and it just shot the confidence right through the team. They’ve got a knack of producing when the odds are against them. It’ll be a surprise to most people but internally to ourselves, not really.
‘These players have unbelievable character and I wasn’t surprised we went up the park and scored again. In a normal season, this would be an astronomical result.
‘But you throw in the circumstances that surrounded this game, we haven’t played a game since the first week in January. We’ve had five training sessions and one friendly and that’s it.
‘We had no right whatsoever to win this game. I’m just so privileged to be manager of such an incredible team.
‘I said in the dressing room I had a funny feeling we could do something tonight. We just had an inkling we could do something special.’
Brora manager Steven MacKay and his players celebrate a famous Scottish Cup upset
Hearts were somewhat depleted, but the big news came in the shape of John Souttar’s return to the bench after a 13-month absence with an Achilles injury.
But, completely against the run of play, Brora opened the scoring from their first attack after 11 minutes.
It was a stunning moment of magic from MacRae, taking a pass from namesake Andy and rocketing a 22-yard strike into the top right corner of the net.
With Brora hitting on the break, the goal scorer sniffed out another terrific chance inside 23 minutes but saw his attempt deflected for a corner. Championship leaders Hearts, for all their possession, weren’t seriously troubling the Highland champions.
Gary Mackay-Steven’s good work on the left set up Aaron McEneff for an attempt which was saved down low by home keeper Joe Malin, while Armand Gnanduillet nodded wastefully off target from the same supplier on the half hour.
Martin MacLean scored the winner with a fantastic controlled finish in the 75th minute
The brilliant Malin had another strong save to make on half-time when he parried a powerful blast from McEneff.
The Hearts equaliser was scrappy. From a corner, Jamie Walker headed back across the box and Berra steered a close-range volley beyond the keeper on 70 minutes.
Brora duly restored the lead after 74 minutes.
MacLean showed incredible cool to place a half-volleyed finish high into the net from a tight angle after keeper Ross Stewart failed to deal with a free-kick which flashed across the box.
There was a nerve-shredding finale for the hosts as Hearts — finalists for the last two seasons in this competition — tried to force extra-time.
A small crowd of disbelieving locals watched from raised ground outside Dudgeon Park
But the small group of officials and fans outside the ground erupted in joy after three minutes of stoppage time.
Hearts boss Neilson said: ‘From our perspective, it’s not good enough. We can’t accept that tonight, it’s an embarrassment for us. It’s an embarrassment for the football club and for all of us involved, the standard is not good enough.
‘We should not be coming here and losing games no matter how many shots on target we have, it doesn’t matter, it’s about putting the ball in the net.
‘I knew when I came in here I was turning around a ship that was heading in the wrong direction. It had three wins out of 30 in the Premiership. We’ve changed it, we’ve turned it around in areas, but there’s still a lot of work to do.’