Turriff United boss Kris Hunter was “proud” of his players after they battled back to draw 2-2 with Inverurie Locos.
Turra found themselves trailing the Railwaymen 2-0 at half-time but produced a stirring comeback in the second half to take a point from the clash at the Haughs.
Hunter was delighted with the performance of his young side and said: “It was a good comeback but I thought, with the way we played in the first half and the possession we had, I thought it was pretty hard on us to be 2-0 down.
“There was a bit of naivety on our part giving away two goals.
“But the way we keep playing I felt we were deserving of a draw with the way we controlled the second half, and some of the football we played was excellent.
“The energy levels were good and if you take out Ross Anderson and James Chalmers the team was full of 19 year olds.
“So there’s a great future here and they can only get better.
“It was pleasing the way they kept playing and had the attitude to come back – I’m proud of them for that.
“All-round they showed a great ability and a great desire and a great belief and it’s great to see from young players.”
United could even have won the game after ref Greg Soutar dismissed a strong penalty appeal with the score at 2-0 after Liam Strachan appeared to be tripped in the box by Mark Souter.
Hunter added: “To me it looked like the guy has come in and taken Liam’s feet so I think the only person in the ground that didn’t see it was the ref.
“But we have to accept it because he saw it differently.”
Inverurie manager Neil Cooper was unhappy his players let their two-goal lead slip.
He said: “There is disappointment, we had a good start to go 2-0 up.
“At half-time we said to the boys to start the second half well.
“But to be fair to Turriff they were better in the second half, came back and fully deserved their draw.
“we’re disappointed with a few of our players, they have shown us a few times that when they’ve had to dig in they’re not able to do it.
“We’ve got no complaints about the result.
“It’s not about learning because I’ve said to them before that ability to dig in is something that is inbuilt with you.
“It’s a team, collective thing. But for me we weren’t collective enough in the second half.
“You’ve got to manage the ball and make sure you keep it in the final third and put their defence under pressure.
“But our midfield and our front players were well off the game, which allowed them to put pressure on our back four and we eventually conceded the two goals.”
Locos were ahead after 50 seconds when Neil GAULD shot first time from the edge of the box. It hit the left post and rebounded off keeper Fraser Hobday and in.
Turriff fought back well in the first period, but Inverurie doubled their lead in the 36th minute.
Gauld turned a defender and set up Colin CHARLESWORTH, who had time and space to advance into the box and drive the ball past Hobday and into the net.
Early in the second half Greg Mitchell’s low shot from 25 yards hit the left post as Locos looked for a third.
Just after the hour Turra had Strachan’s penalty appeal turned down, but they pulled a goal back with 18 minutes left when Nikolas WOZNIAK headed home Calum Reid’s cross from the left.
On 79 minutes the hosts were level when Adam CROSS thumped home from 20 yards.
In the closing stages the game flowed from end to end as both sides searched for a winner, but neither team could find one.