Peterhead hitman Rory McAllister was thrilled to win his battle of wills with Cove Rangers goalie Stuart McKenzie and start the season with a Betfred League Cup victory.
The Blue Toon beat the Highland League champions 2-1 at Balmoor in Saturday’s Group B opener.
Captain McAllister’s penalty six minutes before half-time proved to be the difference in this north-east derby.
But netting the winner against keeper McKenzie was far from straightforward for McAllister.
The 32-year-old said: “I’ve taken a few against Stuart McKenzie before, I know him quite well.
“I remember even playing against him in primary school – he said once it was awarded ‘where are you going?’
“I didn’t know what I was going to do and didn’t say anything and eventually put it in the bottom corner.
“I’ve scored a few against him before and I told him after that he didn’t dive early enough.”
McAllister felt the League One Buchan outfit, who face Inverness Caley Thistle tomorrow, deserved their win against newly-promoted Cove.
He added: “I thought in the first half we were the better team. Cove were strong in the first 15 minutes of the second half and pushed us towards the end.
“But overall I felt we probably deserved the win.
“I didn’t score last year in the League Cup so it was good for me to get a goal first up and I want to build on that.
“You can see they have good players and they’re a good side – but so are we.
“We’re proven at this level and we won League Two last season and dominated at this level last season. They gave us a good game, but I felt we were the better team.”
After Jordon Brown had a low shot tipped away by home keeper Greg Fleming early on Cove took the lead on 14 minutes.
Mitch Megginson robbed Jason Brown, turned inside and got a shot away. As defender Brown attempted to recover he stumbled and blocked the effort with his hand.
Referee Gavin Duncan pointed to the penalty spot and Jamie MASSON coolly rolled the ball into the bottom-right corner from 12 yards.
Three minutes later Megginson limped off with a thigh problem and Peterhead’s Scott Hooper followed him due to an ankle injury.
In the 20th minute the Blue Toon levelled with Jack Leitch’s outswinging corner from the left headed into the bottom-right corner by Derek LYLE at the back post.
McAllister had a shot from 12 yards headed off the goal-line by Harry Milne in 37th minutes but two minutes later he was on the scoresheet.
The Balmoor talisman got to a Paddy Boyle cross from the left before Darryn Kelly, who tripped the striker and McALLISTER picked himself up and fired into the bottom-left corner beyond the diving McKenzie.
After half-time Milne’s 51st minute cross from the left swirled beyond Fleming and bounced back off the bar.
Seven minutes later Milne played a one-two with Sam Burnett on the left and his angled shot beat Fleming but again crashed back off the bar. Milne also delivered a tantalising cross which evaded everyone as Cove were unable to find an equaliser.
Midfielder Blair Yule felt there were positives to take from the loss and said: “It was a tough game, but I thought we merited a point.
“But fair play to Peterhead they took the points in the end.
“It’s still early, pre-season really, and we did well as a team and it was a good work-out.
“Losing Mitch Megginson was a big blow because he scores goals for fun.
“If he’d stayed on it might have made a difference, but we adjusted well and created plenty of chances. We just couldn’t get that second goal.
“There are positives to take because in the second half I felt we were getting stronger as the game went on. We were putting the ball in good areas, but it didn’t quite happen for us.
“We hit the crossbar twice and it was one of those days when it wasn’t meant to be.”