AYR United boss Lee Bullen has praised homegrown talent Fraser Bryden after the teenager struck late to see the Honest Men through to the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.

Ayr were just moments away from becoming one of the scalps of the round as they trailed League Two Peterhead deep into injury time at Balmoor Stadium.

But captain Sean McGinty netted in the sixth minute of added to send the match to extra-time - before homegrown talent Fraser Bryden notched the winning goal in the 115th minute to ensure Ayr's place in the next round and a home tie versus League One side Kelty Hearts.

“We made hard work of it," manager Lee Bullen told the Advertiser, "but we dominated the game for long spells – we had enough chances to win two games.

“I didn’t think we were going to get there in the end. Things just didn’t seem to fall for us at the right time and they were getting blocks, deflections, their goalie got man of the match – it just sort of summed it up.

“I didn’t think we were going to find a way through, but we did, and fair play to the boys for that.”

It was far from the comfortable afternoon Ayr's travelling support would have hoped for as they travelled to the north-east - but Bullen said he was still delighted, if somewhat relieved, at the outcome.

"They won’t remember (the result) if you get through to the next round," he said.

“It always happens. Look at Dundee United or Arbroath [who fell victim to upsets against Queen of the South and The Spartans respectively]. It’s always the same. 

“Two or three weeks ago Bayern Munich lost to a third division team in Germany so anyone can beat anyone when it comes to cup competitions.”

And the United boss was pleased with the attitude shown by his players to avoid the upset.

Ayr Advertiser: Sean McGinty

Bullen added: “A lot of credit to my boys for keeping focussed, keeping going and keeping believing.

“Their fitness levels are really high. We ran over the top of Peterhead. They were hanging on for long spells; they were slowing everything down, not letting us get any tempo in the game.

“Cramp started to build in right at the end, but the mental side, and the character, was absolutely spot on.

“The fans can’t question the players from that side of things because they never gave up, they kept fighting for everything.

"We made five subs, positive subs, we tried to put more energy and attackers on the pitch to try and get something out of it, and luckily we did.”

And the manager had special praise for Bryden who brought a recent barren spell in front of goal to an end as he notched the late winner.

"We’re a club that has to promote lads that have come up through the academy and give them opportunities," Bullen continued.

“Fraser’s bided his time, he’s been a bit up and down. He started the season really strongly, then went off the boil – he’d admit that himself – but he’s come back recently and deserved his opportunity to come on, and he certainly took it.

“A lot of our good stuff came through Aiden McGeady earlier on, but at 37 he’s not going to get 90 minutes in a game, so that’s when you bring the fresh legs on to give us a lift - and that’s exactly what Fraser did.”

Ayr Advertiser:

Ayr will be clear favourites when they take on League One Kelty for a place in the last 16 in January - and Bullen is hopeful that Logan Chalmers will be available for that tie, after his parent club Dundee United were eliminated from the competition.

They had previously asked that Chalmers did not play in the competition for Ayr.

Bullen explained: “I would hope (he will be allowed to play), unless Dundee United take him back in January. I don’t think there should be any issues in Logan being allowed to play in the Scottish Cup in the next round.

“We’ll have to get that clarified but I would be really disappointed if they decided he was not allowed to play."

Long before that cup tie, Ayr's sights are set on a return to league action this Saturday - and a match at Somerset against an Arbroath side who reached the end of an era at the weekend when, in the wake of their surprise loss to The Spartans, manager Dick Campbell stood down after seven years in the Gayfield hotseat.

Campbell's assistant - and brother - Iain, along with coaches Rab Douglas and John Young, have also left the Angus club.

But for Bullen, the important thing is that his players use Saturday's cup win as a springboard to end their Championship calendar year on a high note.

"Any win against anybody, when you’ve been up and down and lacking consistency in results, gets you back on track, and hopefully gets a bit of positivity back in the group," he added.

“It gives them a lift when you’re sitting there watching your name getting pulled out the draw. Everything like that puts you in a better mental state, rather than coming in having lost 1-0.

"It will be very different not to see Dick on the sidelines - or at least getting sent off to the stands.

"We will miss that. Hopefully he gets himself back in somewhere.

“It will be very interesting to see how Arbroath set up, it will be something new I think.

“We always analyse the opposition, their strengths and weaknesses, key players and try and transfer that to the players. 

“It’s the same group of players so I’m not sure how much a new manager can change.I think it will be a case of lifting spirits and making them hard to beat, which Arbroath have always done.

“It’s as tough a game as ever, but what we will do is focus on ourselves and not put too much focus on the opposition.”