Arbroath Vics narrowly crashed out of the Scottish Junior Cup to Premier Division high-fliers Dundonald Bluebell
Ben Anthony should have given Bluebell the lead in the 10th minute when he was sent clear of the Vics defence, but he could only steer his shot wide of the post as Alex Cargill came out to narrow the angle.
Kevin Durno then prevented a certain goal, sticking out a leg to flick a Ben Anthony cross away from Gregg Meikle inside the six-yard box as Bluebell continued to set the pace.
Despite that, Vics came close to taking the lead in the 14th minute.
A Josh Chalmers corner was allowed to travel all the way to Colin Lawson, whose shot on the volley looked netbound until James Lennox threw himself across his line to push it round the post.
Bluebell went close when Scott Orrock released Meikle who skipped into the box and got beyond Cargill, but from the tightest of angles his shot caught the outside of the post and went behind.
Vics had a great chance to take the lead when a long ball from Corey McCulloch sent Abdourahman Njie away.
James Lennox hesitated in coming off his line, giving the striker a shooting chance, but his shot was smothered by the keeper on the six-yard line.
A goal soon arrived for the away side in the 33rd minute.
Shaun Keatings took the ball to the byline and clipped it towards the back post where Callum Young directed a downward header back across goal and just inside the post.
Vics responded and for the second time in the match were denied by a great save from James Lennox, the keeper diving to push a Dale Riddell shot behind for a corner after he had been played in by Njie.
It was Bluebell who doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half.
Scott Orrock sent Shaun Keatings up the right and when Cargill failed to cut out his cross, Meikle nodded the ball beyond him and Orrock turned it in from a couple of yards out.
The tie looked to be sewn up when Bluebell went 3-0 ahead in the 63rd minute.
A quick break from a Vics corner saw Aiden Hendry send the ball through for Meikle who ran on to steer a shot inside the near post beyond the reach of Cargill.
In the 77th minute, Vics pulled a goal back when keper James Lennox made a hash of a clearance, blasting the ball against Mark Forbes and it ran into the path of Liam Hely who swept it into the empty net from 22 yards.
And 90 seconds later Vics reduced the deficit to only one goal.
Thomson sent the ball into the box where Njie was dragged to the ground by Forbes.
The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Njie sent Lennox the wrong way with the penalty to haul Vics back into contention
Before play restarted Mark Forbes was sent off, picking up a second yellow card for disputing the decision as the teams made their way back to the half-way line.
Despite that, Vics were unable to force an equaliser in the final 10 minutes as Bluebell held on to their lead and in a frantic last minute in stoppage time, Kieran MacGregor and Ben Anthony were booked before Vics too ended the match with 10 men when Thomson was red carded following an incident with Keatings.
Vics were denied by two great saves from Bluebell keeper Lennox in the opening period, but by the time the Fife side took a three goal advantage there looked to be only one winner before Vics clawed two goals back late on, but they were unable to snatch an equaliser to take the match to a replay.
With their Scottish Cup adventures over for another season, Vics turn their attentions back to league football this Saturday when they play host to Forfar Albion.
Kick-off is at the earlier time of 2 p.m.
Arbroath Vics: Cargill, MacGregor, McCulloch, Florence, Durno, Riddell (Hely, 67), Chalmers, Lawson, Njie, Thomson, Donald.
Dundonald Bluebell: Lennox, Walton (Quinn, 57), Hendry, Forbes, Maybe (Rolland, 70), Wallace, Keatings, Orrock, Anthony, Meikle (Gilfillan, 67), Young.