Cove Rangers boss John Sheran hailed the fight in his side after they took a huge stride towards the Highland League title with a 1-1 draw at Brora.
The game at Dudgeon Park was dictated by the wind and the Sutherland side capitalised on having it before the break to head in 1-0 up, Colin Williamson volleying home.
However, the Aberdeen side equalised via Jamie Masson soon after half-time, and thought they had a winner – but Blair Yule’s strike was ruled out by the linesman.
Cove remain three points ahead of Brora with a game in hand. If they win in a rearranged game at Fort William on Wednesday, extending their lead to six points with four to play, they should retain their crown and get another crack at the SPFL play-offs.
Sheran said: “When you play you nearest rivals, it’s important you maintain the status quo and don’t get beat.
“We set out with every intention of trying to win the game.
“The first half was dominated by them because they had the wind at their backs, and I thought we did really well, although I’m a bit disappointed with the goal we gave away.
“But we stood up to the pressure and everything they threw at us and the second half we were excellent.”
He added: “You’ve got to come here and fight and battle.
“To go behind and come back shows a huge amount of character.
“We came here with it still in our hands and it still is – so it’s now up to us to go and get the next three points.
“If they’d won the game it would’ve put a bit more pressure on us, but there’s still 15 points to play for, so we need to make sure we go into the Wick game just as committed and ready to fight.”
The gaffer praised his player’s creativity to get the equaliser, although he felt Yule’s goal should have also stood.
Several of referee Mat Northcroft and his assistants’ decisions appeared incorrect over the course of the afternoon, with both teams affected.
Brora had the first chance on four minutes, with Martin Maclean steering a shot from Scott Davidson’s low cross wide.
It was a game with plenty of bite. Mitch Megginson was left in a heap after one challenge, resulting in a delay of a few minutes.
Cove’s new boy Martin Scott could have had the opener twice when play resumed, but shots on 21 and 24 minutes were blocked by home keeper Joe Malin.
Williamson’s fine volley arrived with 35 minutes played from a delivery into the Cove area. The defender gave Stuart McKenzie no chance as he hit the bouncing ball into the top left corner from 10 yards.
However, Daniel Park must have thought he had drawn Cove level on the stroke of half-time when he drove into the box on the right and fired at the far bottom corner – only for Brora full-back James Ross to produce a flying block.
It was all in vain after the interval, with Scott first spurning another glorious opportunity, before Megginson and Yule combined to tee Masson up in the middle of the area.
The midfielder almost burst Malin’s net from just outside the six-yard box with his hit.
Cove’s chalked-off second would have been better had it stood. Connor Scully driving from his own area on the break, before playing in Yule to chip over Malin at the back post.
As the clock wound down, both teams went for the jugular. Brora had two chances to win it.
Williamson had a header cleared off the line on 65 minutes, before his centre-back partner, Neil Macdonald, shot over when a free-kick fell for him 16 yards out.