Ryan Broadhurst admits Inverurie Locos’ title challenge is as good as over after drawing 1-1 with Huntly.
Saturday’s stalemate at Harlaw Park means the Railwaymen are now five points behind Highland League leaders Brora Rangers having played two games more.
Defender Broadhurst said: “It’s disappointing for us because we’re trying to push Brora at the top of the league, but we’re dropping too many points.
“We’ve already lost five games and you can’t expect to be challenging for the league having lost that many at this stage.
“You can afford to drop points on two or three occasions, but we’ve dropped too many.
“It’s Brora’s to lose in my opinion. In terms of ourselves there’s a lot that needs to happen for us to have a chance.
“Fraserburgh still have a lot of games to play as do Brora and ourselves. We’ve still got Brora and Fraserburgh to play so we’ll be looking to win those games and see what happens. But right now we need to regroup.”
Penalties were a big part of the game. Huntly were awarded two by ref Duncan Nicolson, both for Jamie Michie trips on Glenn Murison.
Inverurie goalie Andy Reid saved the first from Declan Milne six minutes before half-time, but Kai ROSS made no mistake with the second spot-kick in the 82nd minute.
Locos felt they should’ve had a penalty with 15 minutes left when Neil Gauld went down after a tangle with Logan Johnstone.
Broadhurst added: “I felt both penalties were soft. The first one might have been a penalty, but the referee has to be certain.
“At the other end I felt we had a challenge which should have been a penalty with Gauldy, and he’s convinced it was a penalty.
“Those things make a difference. Credit to Andy Reid, he pulled off a great save for Huntly’s first penalty, but you can’t expect him to save two.”
Locos striker Chris Angus went close with two headers early on, while Huntly skipper Ross Still sent a free-kick narrowly over.
It was ANGUS’ third headed effort of the first period that gave the home side the lead, when he flicked a Ryan Stott centre into the right corner on 38 minutes.
Inverurie’s lead was preserved by Reid’s fine penalty save a minute later and in the second period Locos were unable to score a second, with an Angus header over from Sam Burnett’s cross as close as they came before Huntly’s equaliser through Ross.
Inverurie manager Andy Low said: “A draw was probably fair, I didn’t think we played well, but I didn’t think Huntly played particularly well either.
“It was a scrappy game and there wasn’t much composure from either side and it turned into a battle – which I didn’t want. I’ve no complaints with the result, but I was wanting a lot more in terms of the result and the performance so we’ll look at that.”
Huntly boss Martin Skinner added: “We had a game plan and the players went out and stuck to it and I’m proud of the players.
“Attitude was the key thing we spoke about at half-time because we were still in the game.
“We showed the right attitude and felt we were comfortable in the game so we were really pleased to take something.
“We had missed a penalty, but we had something about us and the hunger and desire was there.”