Brora Rangers created one of the biggest shocks in Scottish Cup history as the Highland League champions knocked out Hearts in the second round.
Christophe Berra appeared to have saved the Championship leaders’ blushes by cancelling out Jordan MacRae’s early opener with 20 minutes remaining.
But Martin MacLean replied five minutes later to book a home tie against League Two side Stranraer in the third round.
Hearts had been beaten finalists against Celtic two seasons running.
This time, they have lost to a part-time side whose league season has been in suspension since January because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Brora manager Steven Mackay told BBC Scotland: “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.”
Hearts lead Scotland’s second tier by 16 points and went into the game without a defeat in nine games while Brora have only managed three league games all season.
However, Mackay said Brora “had an inkling we could do something special tonight”.
“It’ll be a surprise to most people, but internally to ourselves, not really,” he said. “I said in the dressing room I had a funny feeling we could do something and it’s just an incredible feeling. It’s the single biggest moment in my football career as a player and manager and I’m just so proud of the players and the performance.”
Mackay praised his players for the way they responded to Hearts’ equaliser.
“Jordan Macrae got us the goal and it just shot the confidence right through the team,” he said. “They’ve got a knack of producing when the odds are against them.
“These players have just got unbelievable character and I wasn’t surprised we went up the park and scored again.”
Midfielder MacLean could remember much about his winning goal.
“But what an amazing feeling,” he said. “It hasn’t sunk and I don’t think it will for a few days. I’ll probably be sitting thinking about it all day at work tomorrow to be honest.”
Fellow scorer MacRae pointed out that, had they not won, it could have been Brora’s last game of the season, with the Highland League under threat of being cancelled this season.
“I’d fancy us against anyone as we gave Hibs a good game in the League Cup, but in the circumstances with us not training much, it was going to be a tough ask and, to be honest, I don’t know how we did it,” the striker said.
Unbelievable, phenomenal and well-deserved – analysis
Former Hearts midfielder Don Cowie
Thoroughly deserved for Brora for the effort, the shape of the team, the intent of the team all night was unbelievable for a part-time team that has not played a lot of football.
Hearts will obviously be disappointed that, for all the possession they had, the lack of opportunities they created. I can only think of two or three saves Joe Mallan had to make.
The way that Brora responded when it went 1-1 was phenomenal. They just were fearless. After they went ahead again, you were expecting an onslaught from Hearts, but it just never materialised.
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