Formartine United player-manager Paul Lawson was able to take positives from his side’s 2-0 defeat by Rothes.
Goals from Jack Brown and Steven Anderson earned the Mackessack Park men all three points on a tricky surface.
The sides will meet again at North Lodge Park on Saturday with a place in the Highland League Cup final at stake and Lawson refused to be downbeat after the defeat.
He said: “It was a disappointing result but I felt we played really well in parts of the game, considering the state of the pitch.
“We coped well but the two goals we conceded were disappointing.
“Rothes are obviously used to playing on the pitch and we have to make sure we are able to adapt to these things.
“The pitch was one of the poorest I have seen in a long time, but ultimately that is not an excuse.
“We have to deal with that challenge and get on with it. I felt we did that so it was frustrating to concede those two goals.”
Lawson expects another close meeting between the sides when they meet at North Lodge Park on Saturday.
Buckie Thistle travel to Brora Rangers in this weekend’s other semi-final.
The Formartine boss added: “Regardless of whether you are playing in the cup or the league, it is always difficult when you play the same team two weeks in a row.
“This one is at North Lodge which will be a slight difference but both teams will be up for it, just as much as they were on Saturday. It should make for a good game.
“I couldn’t be angry at the boys after Saturday’s game because they gave their all.
“They played some good stuff but they didn’t get the result.
“We will work hard in training this week to get ready for Saturday.”
Brora continued their relentless push towards the Highland League title with a 4-1 derby win against Wick Academy at Dudgeon Park.
Former Ross County forward Greg Morrison netted a hat-trick for the Cattachs.
Keith came from behind to defeat Strathspey Thistle 3-1, while the match between Fort William and Nairn County was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.