Jim McInally felt his Peterhead side did not have the quality to match Cove Rangers.
The home side struggled to create too many chances at Balmoor, with goals in each half from Mitch Megginson and Harry Milne settling it in Cove’s favour.
Aside from early shots from Steven Boyd and Alan Cook, the Blue Toon failed to properly test Cove goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie.
They were then punished by a clinical strike from Megginson and Milne latching on to a loose ball Peterhead had failed to clear.
McInally said: “A wee bit of quality wins it for them. I thought we started the game really well, for the first half-hour, but I felt as soon as they scored you could see a bit of confidence draining out of our players.
“We didn’t have enough going forward and conceded a soft second goal, where we should have cleared it. I thought we could have capitulated, but the wee boys up front got tore in.
“It must have been poor to watch. but we’ve no complaints. I don’t think there was much between the teams, but their bit of quality won it.”
The Blue Toon were without five first-team players through injury, but McInally was keen not to make this an excuse.
Gary McKenzie was ruled out after suffering a concussion last weekend, despite the former St Mirren defender indicating he was willing to play against Cove.
Simon Ferry and Ben Armour both had hamstring problems and were not fit to play, although Ferry was part of the coaching staff on Saturday.
Josh Mulligan had ankle trouble and Gary Fraser was self-isolating due to his partner’s positive Covid-19 diagnosis. They also named a half-fit Isaac Layne on the bench, after the striker came off last week in the defeat to Airdrieonians.
McInally added: “We were limited – we only had one substitute. We found out our two trialists were ineligible before the game, which was quite annoying as apparently you have to register them 48 hours before now. No one had told us that.
“Isaac wasn’t fit either. He’s not far away. Gary McKenzie wanted to play – he was out for a month last season and had brain scans. Although he was putting himself up to play, it’s (only) a game of football.”
It was far from doom and gloom from McInally though, who was pleased with how some of his younger players acquitted themselves against polished opposition.
He said: “There were a lot of younger players in that team and I thought wee Lyall Cameron was excellent, especially in the first half. Kieran Freeman went into centre-half eventually too.
“The other players will be back at some point and other teams will have injuries. We just need to get on with it.
“There were positives to be taken out of it. The thing you see with Cove is they’re serial winners; they’ve been winning matches now in the league for two seasons.
“You can see in them – in a nice way – there’s an arrogance. They know they’re a good side and have been together a while.
“The pleasing thing for me was half an hour we were on top of them.
“We pressed them and played some decent stuff ourselves.”