Inverurie Locos manager Richard Hastings hailed two-goal hero Neil Gauld and his side’s “outstanding” performance after victory against Brechin City.
The Railwaymen won 2-1 at Harlaw Park in the battle of second and third in the Breedon Highland League.
A second half brace from Gauld – Inverurie’s record goalscorer – was the difference between the sides.
Boss Hastings said: “I’m absolutely delighted for the boys. I do ask a lot of them in terms of their work-rate and togetherness and it was an outstanding performance from them.
“It was a really difficult game and we managed to get the points.
“We were close to a clean sheet as well and the boys were disappointed not to get it, but ultimately I’m so proud of the boys in terms of the performance they put in.
“We’ve got some big games ahead and we’ve got to take confidence and belief from this and keep building.
“There’s a lot of talent in the changing room.
“You saw that with the finishing from Neil Gauld. You need that bit of class and creativity to get those chances.
“His first goal was similar to Nairn on Saturday, from half a yard, but his second goal was quite something.
“He was by himself and I thought ‘what’s he going to do?’ And then he scored out of nothing.”
Hosts have better chances
Locos had the better of the first half with Kieran Shanks and Ryan Broadhurst testing City goalkeeper Jack Wills with efforts following Calum Dingwall corners.
Brechin’s only decent attempt in the first period was a 20-yard shot from Max Kucheriavyi which forced a good save from home goalkeeper Andy Reid.
Gauld broke the deadlock after 50 minutes. Dingwall’s corner from the left was headed across goal by Broadhurst and Gauld scrambled the ball home from close range.
The striker doubled the lead in the 69th minute. Gauld caught Sam Denham in possession, beat the defender on the left side of the area and fired a low shot beyond Wills.
Inverurie could have added to their lead in the closing stages with Nathan Meres shooting over from Shanks’ right-wing cross and then Shanks was through on goal, but was thwarted by Wills.
The hosts were made to sweat in the closing stages with Kieran Inglis netting a 90th minute penalty for the visitors after Robert Ward tripped Murray MacKintosh in the box.
But Inverurie held on to make it five league wins in succession and end Brechin’s run of five straight victories.
‘It’s nowhere near good enough’
Brechin boss Andy Kirk said: “I’m hugely disappointed – the second half was an embarrassment.
“Inverurie deserved to win the game. They ran harder, ran faster and played with more aggression in all phases of the game.
“You can’t expect to win any game of football playing at that level, it’s nowhere near good enough.
“You’ve got to work harder than the opposition and if that doesn’t happen you’ve got a problem.
“If the players think that’s acceptable they’re at the wrong club.”