Inverurie Locos boss Neil Cooper wants to see a “response” from his players after they started the Highland League season with a home defeat to Buckie Thistle.
The Railwaymen lost 3-1 to the Jags at Harlaw Park.
Despite Mark Souter tucking away Jonny Smith’s saved penalty and Buckie having ex-Loco Joe McCabe dismissed, two Scott Adams goals had the home side trailing at the break.
Sam Robertson added a third for the visitors in the second half.
Cooper said: “We started the game well and got ourselves 1-0 up with a penalty kick. Jonny Smith took it, the keeper saved it, but Mark Souter’s followed it in.
“They then had Joe McCabe sent off.
“The goal they got was a terrible one for us. Ryan Broadhurst’s missed the ball six yards out and it’s gone behind him right to their player, who stuck it in.
“Then we didn’t do well in the wide left area and our defenders didn’t do the marking job. We were 2-1 down at half-time.
“But we said to the players there was plenty of time to get back in the game. We’d missed two or three good chances in the first half as well.
“In the second half we lost a really poor goal. Sam Roberston went through three of our players.
“We had most of the ball, but we didn’t use it well at all and didn’t deserve to get anything.
“We’re better than that and it’s disappointing to start with that performance.”
Locos also lost Smith (thigh) and Greg Mitchell (hamstring) in the opening period, and Cooper was exasperated the creativity and defensive solidity of pre-season weren’t present as Locos began their quest to compete for the title.
He said: “Pre-season’s been good in terms of the effort and performance level.
“And first game of the season you’re at home. Last year we beat Buckie 2-0 at their place.
“We knew it would be a hard game, but we gifted the goals and you can’t afford to do that.”
Locos have a midweek chance to put Saturday’s performance behind them when they travel to Kynoch Park in the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup first round on Wednesday.
Cooper said: “The players should be a bit more determined to get through and put that response down.”