Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin heaped praise on opponents Annan for giving his side an uncomfortable evening before they eventually booked their place in the last eight of the Premier Sports Cup with a 4-1 extra-time win at Galabank.
The cinch Premiership side looked to be in bother against their League Two hosts after home captain Steven Swinglehurst cancelled out Vicente Besuijen’s opener to make it 1-1 at the end of the regulation 90 minutes.
But the Dons made their superiority count in extra time, with goals from Luis Lopes, Besuijen and Leighton Clarkson.
“It turned into a more difficult game than we’d anticipated,” said manager Goodwin. “It wasn’t due to lack of respect. We prepared properly, we travelled last night, stayed over, did all things properly.
“We don’t want to make excuses, we want to give the credit to Annan. I thought they were excellent. Their fitness levels surprised us so Peter Murphy and his players deserve credit.
“As in any round of the cup it’s about getting through and we’ve done that which is pleasing. If you’d offered me a scruffy 1-0 before the game I’d have taken it.
“I’m disappointed to concede when we did and go into extra time. We’d highlighted set-plays and counter-attacks and that was the only way they were going to score.
“It turned out it was the set-play. I was disappointed with the marking. Annan’s overall performance warranted that but our class, quality and fitness levels came out in the end.”
Goodwin was particularly frustrated with his side’s first-half display but substitutes Jonny Hayes, Lopes and Clarkson all helped spark them into life after the break.
“I thought the first 45 was flat and we lacked a bit of creativity,” he said. “We didn’t have any real ideas in the final third and made the changes we made.
“I’ve spoken about the quality and competition we have and tonight was an example of being able to make good changes.
“Duk (Lopes) gave us real spark. His last three performances he’s really showed signs of what he can bring to the team.”
Annan boss Peter Murphy was proud of his side.
“The players gave me absolutely everything,” he said.
“The biggest compliment for my players is when we got back to 1-1 and were pushing for a winner, Jim Goodwin was telling his boys to sit in and get to extra time.
“It was a stretch too far in the end but I can’t pick out any negatives.”