Peterhead manager Jim McInally was proud of this players as they exited the Scottish Cup with a 3-2 defeat to Dumbarton.
In a pulsating rearranged fourth-round tie at Balmoor, the Blue Toon deserved a replay at the very least, but it wasn’t to be.
Boss McInally was proud of the performance, but slightly frustrated defensive lapses cost them a fifth-round tie against Morton at Cappielow.
He said: “I thought we looked more like the Championship team than them.
“But we’ve lost goals from two set pieces. The first one we believe Greg Fleming was fouled at the edge of the box and it’s poor marking for the third goal.
“And we started the second half really well. We looked like we were going to score a goal and before we knew it we were 3-1 down.
“But these are gutsy boys that we’ve got and they just stormed back again and if it wasn’t for the Dumbarton goalkeeper we would have got something.
“One of his saves was unbelievable from Wille Gibson. He had a terrific game and credit to our players, they showed a lot of guts and deserved something from the game.
“But it’s a cup tie that’s all about winning and they’ve won and we’re out.
“I’m proud of the players and the effort that they’ve put in and I’ve said to them we need to get on with the real job in hand, which is to kick on in the league.
“We can take a lot of positives from that and I said that to the players.
“When you watch us play we’re a good side when we’re like that and I thought Willie Gibson was absolutely phenomenal.
“He produced a top drawer performance, I hate losing, but I enjoyed watching that second half because I thought we were different class.
“Dumbarton have got quality in their side, but I certainly thought we were better than them, but we’re out and that’s the bottom line.”
After a positive start from McInally’s men the Sons took the lead on 13 minutes.
Dougie Hill’s long free-kick was dropped by goalie Greg Fleming and it fell for Callum GALLACHER to lob home from 20 yards.
But the Buchan men were undeterred and levelled just after the half hour.
Willie Gibson’s long free-kick from the right was flicked on by Russell McLean to the back post, Mason Robertson then brilliantly helped the ball back into the path of Jason BROWN, who smashed home from close range.
After the break McLean had a chance when he broke through, but his angled 12-yard strike was well saved by keeper Scott Gallacher.
Up the other end Stevie Aitken’s team were infront on 53 minutes when Iain Russell cut the ball back from the left byline for Callum GALLACHER to net his second from eight yards.
Two minutes later RUSSELL nodded home David Wilson’s left-wing corner to make it 3-1.
But Peterhead didn’t give in. Gibson had a powerful free-kick pushed round the post. From the corner, sub Rory McAllister’s 10-yard shot was superbly saved by Scott Gallacher who then somehow managed to push away Gibson’s deflected 25-yard strike.
On 82 minutes ROBERTSON glanced home Gibson’s left wing free-kick from eight yards to make it 3-2. In the closing stages Peterhead threw everything at Dumbarton with goalie Gallacher brilliant, tipping over David McCracken’s bullet header in the last minute to deny the Blue Toon a replay.