Darryn Kelly believes Cove Rangers showed their strength to win and keep a clean sheet without captain Eric Watson.
The Highland League champions continued their great defence of the title by beating Forres Mechanics 2-0 at the Balmoral Stadium on Saturday to make it 14 wins from 14 in the league.
They had to do it without skipper Watson, who was suspended after picking up a red card last Wednesday in the 4-2 loss to Formartine United in the Aberdeenshire Shield.
Defender Kelly played at centre-back at the weekend with Watson out and says Cove showed their quality to beat the Can-Cans without their skipper.
Kelly said: “Clean sheets are something that the club prides itself on.
“It’s not just the defenders, but as a whole team we don’t like conceding goals and for us it’s out of character if we do.
“The captain was missing on Saturday and he is an excellent leader of the team.
“But when he is not playing it is up to us to step up and take the lead and we’ve shown we can do that.”
Kelly is pleased with the start Cove have made to defending the Highland League and he is hoping they can keep up their winning run in the weeks ahead.
He added: “If you had given me that before the start of the season I would have bitten your hand off.
“We are up there and hopefully we stay there going forward.
“It puts pressure on the sides below us, but we just concentrate on our own games and winning whatever is put in front of us and the rest will take care of itself.”
Reflecting on the performance against Forres at the weekend, Kelly felt Cove could have won by more than two with the visiting goalkeeper pulling off a number of good saves to thwart John Sheran’s men.
Kelly said: “I thought we were excellent from start to finish on Saturday.
“We limited them very well and we attacked the game very well.
“It was a good way to bounce back from the Aberdeenshire Shield loss to Formartine.
“It was good to get another clean sheet as well, we’ve only conceded four goals in the league and scored 49.
“The team is doing really well and we are knocking the ball about really well and we penetrated their defence really well.
“On another day when the goalkeeper doesn’t pull off some saves we are talking about five or six nil. We are really happy with that performance.”