Inverurie Locos boss Neil Cooper hailed hat-trick hero Neil Gauld after their 4-1 win over Keith.
The Railwaymen triumphed at Harlaw Park thanks to Gauld’s treble before half time.
Jamie McAllister did strike for the Maroons to make the score 2-1 before Gauld’s third and after the interval Chris Angus netted to seal the points.
On Gauld – who now has 36 goals for the season – Cooper said: “He’s now got 36 this season and he was saying 44 is the most he’s scored in a Highland League season.
“I’m pretty sure he will beat that this year with the way he is playing.
“His footwork up against defenders and round about the box is second to none.
“He is someone who has scored goals all his career and he has the composure to finish things off.
“As a striker you need to have those instincts and anticipation was well as the composure.”
Cooper also believes Gauld is benefiting from having plenty of competition in attack for Inverurie with Andy Hunter back from injury and Jonny Smith also close to a return after a lengthy absence.
Cooper added: “Neil knows he needs to play well but it’s not just him, it’s the rest of the team as well.
“But upfront Chris Angus has been playing really well and Andy Hunter started on Saturday.
“He came off with 10 minutes to go but did well and we have good options in attack.
“Jonny Smith is coming back from injury as well as youngsters Kyle Gordon and Josh Bolton and even Joe McCabe can play up there.
“We have good options all over the park, we need to keep doing what we have been doing.
“We freshened the team, made a few changes, but the boys still did well so long may it continue.”
The result leaves Locos fifth in the Highland League – five points clear of Forres below them and four behind Formartine in fourth.
With nine games to go Cooper is happy with his side’s season at this point – particularly given a raft of injuries during the first half of the season which left him with a threadbare squad.
He said: “We’ve had a good season with the injuries we’ve had in the first half of the season.
“As a manager we’ve had to find out which players can play in secondary positions when needed and we’ve done that.
“With all the injuries we’ve had we’ve had players playing in different positions and still managed to win games.
“We’re delighted with the season with the injuries we’ve had.
“We just need to do a bit better against the teams at the top of the league.”
Elsewhere Fraserburgh slipped to third after a 2-1 defeat to Wick Academy at Harmsworth Park.
Jack Henry had the Scorries ahead before Scott Barbour replied for the Broch on the hour.
But Marc McGregor struck with 14 minutes to play to inflict defeat on Mark Cowie’s side in Caithness.