St Andrews United marched in to the semi-final of the East of Scotland Cup after an emphatic demolition of Super League champions-elect, Bonnyrigg Rose, at Recreation Park on Saturday afternoon.
Manager Jim Hardie tweaked the side that had drawn 2-2 with Kelty in Saints‘ last competitive game, Fotheringham and Rattray were at the heart of the defence with MacRae at left back, while McMullan returned on the right.
Allan Ramsay was preferred to Sam Buchan in midfield and Rose manager, Max Christie, was forced into fielding a side which included a couple of trialists owing to the pressure on his squad of a successful season.
Both sides started brightly on an excellent surface that showed little sign of the previous night’s Fife Amateur Cup Final played at the same venue in horrible weather but neither side dominated in a game that swung from one side to the other.
Saints took the lead after 20 minutes when a barnstorming run from MacRae created space for Sutherland who cut the ball back from the byline for Ryan McInnes to stab home at the back post for his first goal of the season.
The goal was like a punch to the solarplexus for the Rose men and, when they did break, the cross from McAllum was poor and flew straight into the arms of the unchallenged Bennett.
Suttie then made it 2-0 when he seized on a poor back pass by Steven Thomson and took the ball round Burgess before sliding it home.
United made it three after great work on the left once again saw Dignan cross to the back post and Johnny MacRae appeared from nowhere to nod the ball home.
Suttie had an effort cleared off the line on the half hour when it looked like he had scored as United took their visitors to pieces in wave after wave of incisive attacking football.
Bonnyrigg had a rare chance on the 35th minute when a cross from McLeish was headed behind, under pressure, by McMullan.
Two minutes later, a great ball from Suttie found Dignan on the left but - when he crossed the ball - Sutherland was adjudged offside.
A deflected free kick from Bonnyrigg caused a problem for Bennett but Rattray managed to clear the danger for a corner.
Dignan was hacked down as he threatened to bear down on goal, resulting in a free kick.
More good work by Dignan on the stroke of half time found McInnes who hit a peach of an effort in to the far corner of the Rose net to make it 4-0 at the break.
United started the second half as they finished the first and Sutherland should have made it when he was in a race with Thomson for the ball but the Rose full back got back to knock it away.
Saints continued to press and Dignan won a corner off Burrell after 52 minutes. A great corner from McInnes found Rattray on the penalty spot but he could only head over the bar.
An excellent cross-field ball from MacRae set Sutherland free on the right but Bertram got back just in time to concede a throw-in.
Suttie sent MacRae in on the left and he hit a superb ball across the six-yard box but unfortunately it evaded at least three outstretched legs.
Fotheringham couldn’t get his header on target when he met another great McInnes corner. With the game won, Josh Paterson made his final appearance at Recreation Park when he replaced Gary Sutherland after 77 minutes. Paterson has improved hugely during his time at Recreation Park but,unfortunately, his chances have been limited although he heads for the north of England a better player than the one that arrived.
Dignan had a golden chance when he met a Fotheringham cross; unfortunately his header was directed away from the goal instead of at it.
Fotheringham, replaced by Gibb, is another player departing Recreation Park and his departure from the field was met with a generous round of applause for his work during his time with United.
McInnes had the ball in the net after 89 minutes but his hat-trick was denied by an unkind flag on the far side. Ironically, Bonnyrigg had their best chance of the game with the last kick when a goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by McMullan.
This was a great performance from Saints, who had the game won by half-time and then conserved energy during a second half that at times resembled a practice match.