Buckie Thistle 3 PARS 5

DUNFERMLINE progressed to the fourth round of the Scottish Cup but not after being given a fright by Highland League leaders Buckie Thistle on Saturday.

An own goal from Hamish Munro gave the Pars an early lead at Victoria Park but they were almost immediately pegged back by John McLeod.

Michael Paton put Athletic ahead again from the penalty spot but Chris Angus ensured it was level pegging at half-time with a second Buckie equaliser.

Kallum Higginbotham and a fine individual goal from Paul McMullan made it 4-2 for the Pars in the second period, but Angus' second for the hosts ensured a nervy finish until McMullan wrapped it up in stoppage time.

Allan Johnston made four changes to the side that beat St Mirren in their previous game with Michael Moffat, McMullan, Nat Wedderburn and Connor Duthie coming into the side in place of Farid El Alagui, Higginbotham, John Herron and Jason Talbot.

The locals turned out in force to cheer on the underdogs and ensure a crackling cup tie setting but they were quickly silenced as Dunfermline took a 12th minute lead.

McMullan's cross from the left was headed down by Lee Ashcroft before being diverted into his own net by the unfortunate Munro as he attempted to clear.

Within a minute though, Allan Johnston's team surrendered their lead when Wedderburn's heavy touch from Sean Murdoch's pass was seized upon by Cieran McLean, who slipped the ball into the path of McLeod to slam home his 33rd goal of the season.

Just three minutes later, Dunfermline were back in front through Paton's penalty after Moffat had been felled inside the box by goalkeeper Ross Salmon, but this topsy-turvy game had another twist in 33 minutes.

The Pars lost possession in the middle of the park and McLeod this time turned provider, slipping the ball into Angus' path to drill a shot across Murdoch and into the far corner of the net.

Nicky Clark forced Salmon into a smart save just before the break before Higginbotham was introduced for Paton at the interval.

Just before the hour mark, the change proved inspired as McMullan's flighted pass found the run of Clark, who laid the ball off for the substitute to drill the ball underneath Salmon for Pars' third.

Minutes later McMullan looked like he had sealed the tie with a memorable individual goal, cutting infield from the left touchline and jinking past three defenders before coolly slotting beyond the goalkeeper.

Back though came Thistle and in the 68th minute, they had reduced the deficit.

Dunfermline's defence was posted missing as the ball was played into McLeod on the right and, although Murdoch blocked his effort, Angus ran to the back post to head in from a yard out.

Clark rattled the post with a fierce drive for Dunfermline but at the other end, Lewis MacKinnon almost snatched a replay but sent a golden chance over the top.

In stoppage time, a breakaway by Moffat saw him run in on goal and square to McMullan for a tap-in and secure Dunfermline's place in round four.