Peterhead boss Jim McInally said he’d “always take the result over the performance” after his side battled to beat Queen’s Park 2-1 at Balmoor.
The win was a big one for the Blue Toon – with title rivals Edinburgh City on Irn-Bru Cup duty, it allowed the Buchan side to reduce the points gap at the summit to one.
McInally’s team have still played one less game than City, so remain in charge of the race.
On Saturday, an early goal from Shane Sutherland – his first since returning to Balmoor in January – was cancelled out after the break by the visitors’ Scott Gibson.
However, half-time sub Willie Gibson lashed home a volley from 20 yards to seal the points soon after.
McInally said: “It was a good win, hard fought – we didn’t play particularly well.
“In fact, we started well in the first 15 minutes and I felt that it took them to score (the equaliser) before we really took control of the game.
“We scored a really good goal – Willie Gibson scored a volley from the edge of the box, and we had a not bad spell then.
“But I just thought we weren’t playing enough. We weren’t putting our foot on the ball and were playing from back to front too easily.”
The Blue Toon went 1-0 up within five minutes at Balmoor through Sutherland, who controlled a defence-splitting pass before prodding the ball past Jordan Hart.
However, as Queen’s Park settled they found their way back into the match before the end of the first period, although they didn’t really trouble Greg Fleming in the Peterhead goal.
After the break, the visitors did pull one back, with Scott Gibson netting from a corner.
McInally thinks conceding revitalised his team, before and after Willie Gibson fired the winner.
He said: “It wasn’t until then (their goal) we really put our best foot forward. It’s not that we played particularly well, but at least we took control of the game.”
However, McInally recognised how significant a result the win over Queen’s Park could be. And, despite knowing there’s more to come, he singled out Willie Gibson and Sutherland for praise.
He said: “It’s a big result and you’d always take the result over the performance. I just know there’s more to come.
“Willie Gibson came off the bench and made a big difference and Shane Sutherland looked more like himself today.
“It was Shane’s first goal since coming back, which was pleasing.
“It was a great ball and a great finish from him.
“He took it (diagonal pass) down well with his left foot and put it away with his right foot.
“Overall I thought he was nice and clever. He played well – he’s a good player.
“There’s good signs there, but we’ve definitely still to improve.
“We went with the three strikers (Sutherland, plus Rory McAllister and Derek Lyle) and eventually with them not getting good service it’s hard to keep playing like that.
“But we certainly did improve after they scored and saw out the game quite well.”