Premier League Arniston made heavy weather of edging past fourth bottom of the South League Crossgates in this cup tie that now sees Arniston host Super League Musselburgh in round two.
Arniston were fresh from a 4-0 away league win at St Andrews the week before and home fans expected a straightforward afternoon and more goals but, with boss Jock Landells short of players, he had to reshuffle the pack at Newbyres Park on Saturday and it did not quite work out that way for the fans.
Following numerous fruitless corners, Arniston finally broke the deadlock three minutes before the interval only to be shocked as Crossgates equalised less than a minute later to see the teams go in at half time locked together at 1-1.
A sluggish start by the hosts was in contrast to the lively visitors but a fifth minute through run by Danny McFadden was defied by the outstretched leg of Primrose keeper Stuart Allan.
Darren Leslie’s first corner in seven minutes only landed on the roof of the net before, at the other end, a free header saw Crossgates’ Jamie McNeill head over the bar three minutes before his colleague Liam Forbes did the same.
Crossgates were not overwhelmed by their higher league hosts as a Kyle Doig glancing header was well off target before an ambitious shot from Fifers’ Forbes went over Andy Ritchie’s bar.
Arniston’s misfiring chase for the opener fell on a stubborn Fife defence though a better Arnie move in 27 minutes saw Doig rattle the side net.
Restive home fans saw it still 0-0 as the half hour mark passed.
Another missed chance in 35 minutes set up by Danny McTernan and Kyle Doig only saw Danny McFadden shoot the over the bar.
It was in the 42nd minute that Arniston finally broke the deadlock when a foul by Rhys Parker on Danny Thomson saw the resultant free-kick side passed by Thomson to Darren Leslie who fired home a super shot past keeper Allan.
But, in a quick counter-attack, Crossgates’ Jamie McNeish outpaced the home defence before crossing from the right finding Liam Forbes heading home a dramatic equaliser.
Substitute keeper Andy Ritchie proved to be a hero with an excellent save off Stuart Davidson five minutes into the second half before three minutes later producing another save to thwart McNeill.
In reply Kyle Doig swept a raging shot/cross across the face on the Primrose goal before, at the other end, Ritchie again saved well from Donaldson on the hour mark.
Arniston got what proved to be the winner in 67 minutes via the penalty spot after Chris Tobin had been felled by Matthew Christie and Danny Thomson made no mistake from the resultant spot kick.
Arniston struggled to get a third goal cushion as Crossgates pressed all the way to the final whistle but they hung on to clinch the tie.
Arniston Rangers: Ritchie, Meaney, Deland, Langdale, Brady, McTernan, Leslie, Thomson, Doig, McFadden, Tobin; Subs: Lucas, McCaul.