PROUD Sandy MacLean saluted his side after they came desperately close to knocking the West of Scotland's top Junior side out of a major competition.
The Ardrossan Winton Rovers manager spoke after his side lost to Premier Division leaders Kirkintilloch Rob Roy in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw in a West of Scotland Cup tie at Winton Park on Saturday.
MacLean told Sportscene: "This was a real test for the players and we competed very well. We battled hard to get back into the game against a top side who are absolutely flying in the Premier Division and that was good considering we had a few players missing. Penalties are always a bit of a lottery. Rob Roy complimented us after the game."
He added: "It was a good performance which lets us see how we are progressing but we have already beaten two Premier Division sides in Largs Thistle and Kilwinning Rangers this season and that's the level we want to be at in a couple of years."
Winton on Saturday head to Campbell Park to face a Saltcoats Victoria side who also impressed, going down 7-5 at home to Kilsyth Rangers in another West tie, despite being ahead three times.
MacLean said: "We expect a very tough game against Saltcoats who have a new manager and played well on Saturday. But we want to go back up the road with three points. If we win our remaining matches we are promoted."
Goalkeeper Dylan Caddis has returned to the side from Clyde and hopes to battle for the number one jersey with current number one John Mullen.
Saltcoats Vics interim manager Tam McClelland is relishing the derby and said: "It's a long time since anyone has scored five goals against Kilsyth, but I was disappointed we didn't see the game out. Silly mistakes cost us but we played well. We look forward to Saturday and will give Winton a game. I was on the winning side a few times in the derby as a player. Hopefully we can win and put a spoke in their promotion ambitions."
Meanwhile Kilbirnie Ladeside have signed winger Owen Ronald from Cumbernauld United and he featured in the 1-0 home loss against Auchinleck Talbot.
Manager Mark Bradley said: "Owen did well on the wing with our trialist Andy Johnstone. We had chances to win the game but must aim to beat Glenafton away on Saturday."