Mark McGuigan’s stunning diving header 20 minutes from time earned an unlikely replay for the League One’s bottom club whose odds of being in the fifth round draw were on par with Brexit being sorted out by the time that takes place on Sunday.
The fairytale will probably end when the sides meet again at Ochilview on Tuesday week but that won’t diminish the delight the Stenny players and their 261 supporters shared when referee Barry Cook blew the full time whistle in this breathtaking draw as they celebrated as though they had lifted silverware.
Hardly surprising really as their manager Colin McMenamin admits the money from this game had already allowed him to strengthen his squad and the additional revenue would increase his chances of adding more new faces.
“Listen we would have taken a draw before we came up here this morning so we are delighted with it and I’m sure the board will be delighted as well” he said. “The replay can help the club and just getting this tie helped me bring in a couple of players already this window. There’s still a wee bit left from that to get another couple and the replay will bring in some more money.”
By contrast McInnes had £400,000 signing Stevie May warming the bench for long spells while Manchester United’s on loan striker James Wilson, reputedly on £30,000-a-week, stayed on the bench throughout as Aberdeen struggled to breakdown a team who conceded nine goals in their previous two League One matches.
Greg Stewart was back on loan and expected to make that move permanent with a lucrative three year contract when his current deal with Birmingham City ends in the summer.
Stewart did play a part in Aberdeen’s only incisive moment of the first half, joining a four man move that ended with Max Lowe, back on loan from Derby County, clipping the Premiership side into a 20th minute lead but Stenhousemuir defended heroically while Graeme Smith made some decent second half saves.
At the other end Joe Lewis as a virtual spectator until the 70th minute when Ruaridh Donaldson found space on the left to deliver a delicious cross that Mark McGuigan gave the treatment it deserved with a thumping diving header.
It was his tenth goal in the last eleven games but he admitted: “It’s probably the most high profile goal of my career and one that I’ll be able to look back on. I’ll have a few beers tonight to celebrate. Premiership teams come here and struggle so we’ve done great here to get the replay.”
Not that McInnes was too unhappy either, if for different reasons, as he feared another sucker punch with much more serious consequences as he said: “I’m more relieved than angry. However the poorest results are defeats – we’re still in the Cup. I’ve been in the game long enough to know that when you’re performance isn’t on the money, you’re out.”