ELLON face the ignominy of losing their place in Caley Division 1 after they were beaten by arch-rivals Garioch 27-25 in the first game of the play-offs to decide who claims the last place in the division.
The six-try thriller finished on a controversial note when the Meadows side claimed they had scored a late touchdown after Stuart Hackett drove over the home line, only for referee Dave Marshall to adjudge he had not seen the ball touched down.
Ellon head coach Michael Cox said: “It’s difficult to take when a try like that is taken away from you. I was certain we had scored, but it was a great game in which Garioch probably just about deserved to win.”
Garioch can finish the job in Glenrothes where a win would clinch promotion for the Inverurie side. A win for the Fifers would, however, throw open the section, leaving Ellon in charge of their own destination at the Meadows on May 4 when they meet Glenrothes.
Cox said: “It’s going to be an agonising wait, but it’s not over yet, as I would fancy Glenrothes to win at home, leaving us with a chance of taking control of the section.”
Ellon had looked set to take over the Kellands Park game after Ewan McIntyre had scored to give them an early lead, only to lose three tries before half-time.
The visitors staged a strong fightback, scores from Keiron Dalgarno and Cox put them back in the game, only thwarted by a refereeing decision that will rankle at the Meadows for a long time, especially if they are relegated.
The focus will be on Glenrothes on Saturday. One phone call could create a sinking feeling, either that or hand Ellon a welcome lifeline.