Inverurie Locos boss Neil Cooper was thrilled after a 7-1 thumping of Huntly strengthened their chances of finishing in the Highland League’s top four.
The Railwaymen’s big win at Christie Park combined with defeats to rivals Buckie Thistle, Forres Mechanics and Brora Rangers mean Locos now look well placed to secure a top four spot and a Challenge Cup place for next season.
Harlaw Park boss Cooper was pleased with their second half display against Huntly and now hopes his third-placed side can catch Fraserburgh in second before the end of the season.
He said: “We spoke to the players before the game about making sure we didn’t let ourselves down with a poor performance.
“We didn’t start the game well and all credit to Huntly, I think their early penalty was really soft. That gave them a wee lift as well, but we didn’t come out of the traps at all.
“I said after the game to the players it was night and day between the first half the second half. I’m really pleased with the quality in the second half, we didn’t do well in the first half so credit to Huntly for starting well.
“The players have been fantastic so we want to make sure we don’t go and throw it away by putting in really poor performances. To win the game was important and now we have Buckie on Saturday.
“We knew the games could go in our favour because Forres, if they had won their game in hand, would only have been three points behind us.
“But they lost their game and Brora lost and Buckie lost. All the results went for us, so we want to cement a top-four position and try to get second if we can.”
Huntly were without regulars Michael Clark, Gary McGowan and Martin Charlesworth.
Boss Charlie Charlesworth said: “We’re lagging and down on confidence and for me it all stems from the fact we’ve got players unavailable through suspensions and one thing and another.”
The Black and Golds led on five minutes when ref Alan Proctor surprisingly pointed to the spot when Connor Rennie tangled with Ross Still at a free-kick. Michael EWEN rolled home the spot-kick.
Then Locos keeper Andy Reid made fine saves to deny Ewen and Dennis Wyness adding to the lead.
But Inverurie came back with Jordan LEYDEN’S 20-yard lob equalising and Paul NAPIER deflected Neil McLean’s corner into his own net to make it 2-1 at half-time.
After the break, sub Colin CHARLESWORTH made it 3-1 with an angled drive. Then Chris ANGUS scored with a low finish. LEYDEN made it 5-1 before CHARLESWORTH added the sixth and LEYDEN completed his hat-trick with a penalty after he was tripped by Alex Thoirs.