Cove Rangers manager John Sheran heaped praise on hat-trick hero Sam Burnett after they beat Deveronvale 4-1 at Harlaw Park, Inverurie.
After a scoreless first half, right-back Burnett found the net three times – including from the penalty spot – and Mitch Megginson scored the other as the Aberdeen team saw off the Banffers.
The win keeps Cove at the top of the Highland League table with 19 points from a possible 21.
On the performance of his team and Burnett, 20, boss Sheran said: “Deveronvale made it really difficult, they were really well organised in the first half. We were a wee bit sluggish.
“But we upped the tempo and put in a really good second-half performance which got us the win.
“I thought throughout the whole game Vale kept their shape really well and they made it difficult and kept going and battling right to the end.
“It wasn’t easy and they certainly look like they have improved from last year.
“It’s Sam’s first hat-trick and it’s not bad to do it when he was playing right-back.
“He took his first two goals really well. The first one was a good finish and the second one was a cutback from a corner that he drove into the roof of the net.
“Sam is a player that has been with us for a few years now and every year he seems to get better with a bit more experience.
“He’s a first class player and he has done really well.”
On Cove’s fast start to the season, Sheran added: “The season is now starting to settle down a bit, everybody has played a few games so fitness is the same and we just want the next game to come.”
Inverurie Locos hammered Strathspey Thistle 7-0 at Grantown. Neil Gauld grabbed four for the second game running, Jordan Leyden and Andy Hunter also found the net and new signing Matthew Macdonald rounded off the scoring with his first goal for the club.
Clachnacuddin beat Keith 2-1 at Grant Street Park. Goals from Stuart Leslie and Sean Webb won it for the Lilywhites with James Brownie scoring for the Maroons.
Lossiemouth and Fort William drew 2-2. Ryan Farquhar’s brace for Lossie was matched by strikes from Jack Lingard and Barna Tot for Fort.