THE margins between success and failure can come to a single second or in football to one mistimed challenge or wrong decision.
For the Nicolson Institutes under 15 boys team it came down to one mix-up in their defence, two minutes from time as it forced a game they should have seen out into extra-time and an extra period in which they ultimately lost a cup final spot.
Having roared into a 2-0 lead it seemed as if the energetic and swaggering Stornoway schoolboys would march into the final but in the second half they conceded a penalty, which was duly converted, before a late mix-up at the back gifted Buckie an equaliser they scarcely deserved.
In extra-time, and with confidence sapped following the shattering late leveller, Buckie were the team in the ascendency and the team who went on to clinch it.
The game had started so well for the Niccy boys with Connor Maciver firing inches past the near post in the opening 60-seconds before Kieran Bell opened the scoring on three minutes when a low centre from Michael Macmillan was inexplicably left by both the Buckie keeper and defenders.
It was all one-way traffic in the early going and a stunning solo run from Alexander Macdonald saw him drop the shoulder and shuffle the ball between four defenders and move into the six-yard box but the teenager’s eventual effort was beaten away.
The Nicolson weren’t to be denied for long and Macmillan doubled their advantage with a volley on his weaker right foot which rolled past the keeper from the middle of the box.
With the wind at their backs in the second-half Buckie, as expected, came at the Nicolson like a pack of wolves, prowling their 18-yard line and looking for a way back into the match.
And they earned it from the penalty spot after the man in the middle awarded them a spot-kick from which they hauled themselves back into the reckoning.
From here Buckie poured forward but they struggled to find any gaps in a resolute and firm Nicolson back line.
That was until just two minutes from the end when a bread and butter ball into the box, which was rolling through to the keeper, was poorly cleared by a Nicolson defender on the stretch and devastatingly fell perfectly for a lurking Buckie striker.
A quick swipe of his right boot from 8-yards and it was 2-2 and extra-time. In the additional period the Nicolson were overcome by their visitors who now go onto the showpiece cup final.
Nicolson Institute under 15s 2
Buckie High School u15s 2
(Buckie win 4-2 after extra-time)