Alyth 0 Strathearn Grove 1
GROVE bounced back from league disappointment to notch three excellent League Cup points.
This success at Diamond Jubilee Park also helped set up a showdown between the Crieff side and their third division rivals Rattray.
But a playoff place looked an unlikely prospect during the early exchanges at Alyth, as the slick-passing home side toyed with their opponents in the blustery conditions.
Comeback goalkeeper Barrie Chiverton was forced into action on numerous occasions as the first division outfit threatened to run amok.
Despite their slow start, with experienced campaigners Barry MacKenzie and Bob Bain in central defence, the young visitors gradually gained a foothold.
As midfielders Jamie Henry and Gavin Jack became increasingly influential, front man Darren Beattie used his pace and trickery on the break to win a couple of corners, though Grove were unable to capitalise.
In the last 20 minutes the contest became increasingly stretched and Grove exploited the pace of Beattie up front and Mark Buckley on the right side.
Buckley almost made the breakthrough when a terrific Henry centre broke to him just a few yards from goal but he he was unable to keep his effort on target.
Grove won in unlikely fashion with less than five minutes left.
A corner was swung into the six-yard box by Pat Ward and midfielder Fraser Deacon nodded home from pointblank range.
Grove’s second win in the competition was enough to secure one of the top two places in their section.
They face Rattray at Braidhaugh on Saturday to decide the group winners.