Cove Rangers boss John Sheran felt they were unfortunate to lose their unbeaten league run against Forres – but insisted the League Two play-offs are their priority.
Stuart Soane’s goal gave the Can-Cans a 1-0 win at Harlaw Park on the night the Aberdeen side were presented with the Highland League trophy.
Sheran drafted a number of youngsters into his side as he protected key players for the play-off semi-final with Spartans – the first leg of which is a week on Saturday.
The defeat was Cove’s first in the league since Christmas Eve 2016.
Sheran said: “I thought considering the amount of changes we made to the side the guys did really well.
“In the first 35 minutes we were excellent and then we lost a fluky goal.
“I thought we were unfortunate to be behind and after 10 or 15 minutes of the second half we settled down and started to play again.
“A number of chances could have gone our way but they didn’t and our run had to come to an end at some point.
“When you’re not at full strength there’s always a chance that could be the case.
“We’ve got two games to go so we’re just about at the end of the marathon.
“The important thing this year was winning the league and getting into the play-offs.
“Now the focus is on the play-offs and we’ve just go to try to be as fresh as possible for that because everybody is looking forward to it.
“The presentation was a bit of an anti-climax because we’d already won the league.
“But we’re still pleased we’ve won it and we’re getting ready for the play-offs and getting everyone fired up.”
After a well-contested opening half hour, the Can-Cans went ahead when SOANE’S strike from 15 yards was deflected beyond keeper John McCafferty by the sliding Sam Robertson.
On 55 minutes, Forres had their goalie Stuart Knight to thank for keeping them in front.
He made a great diving save to push away Connor Scully’s powerful low shot from the edge of the box.
In the final 20 minutes, the men from Moray were dropping deeper and deeper to defend their lead and despite Cove’s best efforts they were unable to get an equaliser before lifting the Highland League trophy.
“Congrats to Cove Rangers on success”, Page 25