Matchwinner Mitch Megginson reckons Cove Rangers sent out a message to the rest of the Highland League with their win against Inverurie Locos.
Megginson hit the only goal as the champions and league leaders won 1-0 at the Balmoral Stadium – a result which keeps them five points clear at the summit.
The striker reckons rivals Fraserburgh, Brora and Formartine may have expected Cove to slip up.
Megginson said: “I think everyone else in the league would have been looking at our result hoping we would drop points. So for us it was a massive win to get all three.
“Locos are one of the best teams in the league and are rightly up near the top so it was a big win. It sends out a message and I think we’ve done that all season by continuing to win.
“The pressure is on teams to keep with us. We’re leading the pack and they need to try to keep up.”
On the hard-fought win over the Railwaymen, he added: “It was one of the toughest games we’ve had this year and we were saying afterwards in the dressing room that was maybe the hardest we’ve had to battle.
“That is credit to Locos because they made it a hard game for us and defended well.
“All we could do was keep pushing. The gaffer said at half-time it didn’t matter if we scored in the 46th minute or the 80th minute, we needed to keep going.
“We are going to create chances with the quality we have and luckily one fell to me and it was just a case of nodding it home.”
Cove boss John Sheran said: “I felt Inverurie came to stop us playing and first half we played some fantastic football, we just couldn’t get the breakthrough. There were good saves and sometimes the final pass not being right.
“We showed everything in terms of the football we can play, we can dig in and we had to show a lot of character in the second half.
“We said at half-time we would just have to grind out something. I thought we were applying pressure all the time and it was good to get the three points.
“When a team sits in with people behind the ball it’s difficult to break down. The longer the game went on they had to come out more and that may have helped more.”
In the first half Locos keeper Andy Reid made good saves to keep out a Harry Milne header and Megginson’s low drive.
In the second half Milne had two more headers saved by Reid, who needed more than five minutes of treatment at one stage after a boot in the head.
Cove’s breakthrough came in the 80th minute when Milne’s left-wing cross bounced off Chris Herd and Megginson converted from close range.
Inverurie manager Neil Cooper said: “I was disappointed for the boys because they competed really well throughout the game.
“I was just disappointed because we didn’t pass the ball as well as we can and that’s why we didn’t create as many chances as I would’ve liked.
“I still felt we deserved a draw and were a bit hard done by, but we didn’t defend a cross to the far post.
“Normally one of your team-mates can bail you out if you don’t win the first ball, but we didn’t win the second ball. And we paid the price because Mitch Megginson got on the end of it.”