Paul Hartley was far from happy with his Cove Rangers’ players despite their 1-0 win over nine-man Peterhead.
Hartley was critical of his side’s wastefulness in front of goal, with Rory McAllister’s second-minute header all the League Two champions had to show for their efforts.
The Blue Toon were a man down in the first half with Simon Ferry dismissed, while his team-mate Steven Boyd was also shown a red card by referee Peter Stuart seven minutes into the second period for dissent.
But despite the two-man advantage Cove were not able to press home their advantage, with the visitors having chances to make life uncomfortable for Hartley’s side.
“We’ve got to do better, especially in the second half,” said Hartley. “We were wasteful with our chances, we were anxious.
“We were in control of the game but at 1-0 there’s always a chance. We created enough opportunities but weren’t ruthless enough. We weren’t cool in front of goal.
“Football is all about winning but we can do things better. It’s not easy to play against 10 or nine, with two banks of four.
“They worked hard and were organised and there was always a chance with one of the set plays that they chucked in. We gave too many free-kicks away.”
2’ | #CRFC 1-0 PFC
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) January 2, 2021
McAllister flicked on a Fraser Fyvie free-kick beyond Josh Rae before Ferry’s dismissal, with the ex-Peterhead frontman and Jamie Masson having chances to extend the lead before the break.
Boyd got his marching orders early in the second half but Cove failed to test Rae, with Alan Cook seeing a late shot deflected wide for the Blue Toon.
Peterhead boss Jim McInally refused to condemn referee Peter Stuart, who made a number of contentious decisions across the afternoon.
Ferry was sent off after 21 minutes for a foul on Mitch Megginson, with the Cove skipper taken down just inside the Peterhead half on a counter-attack.
McInally said: “The first sending off is a booking. It’s a professional foul. It spoiled the game for Cove to a certain extent. I’m too long on the tooth to be speaking about referees.
“I think Steven swore at him. That’s just not acceptable – he left us in a grim situation, that’s the last thing we needed. The first one was harsh but if he’s swore at him he deserves all he gets. There’s no excuses for that.”
McInally was full of praise for the efforts of his players, who defended diligently despite their lack of personnel, with only two outfield players available to be used on the bench.
He added: “It was an incredible shift, bearing in mind Jordon (Brown) was one of the boys and I don’t know when he last played. We were both short of bodies – we only had two subs as Gary McKenzie wasn’t fit.
“It took me back to last year when we played Dunfermline with eight men. You think ‘how do you get through this?’ but our attitude and fitness were brilliant.
“It gets to a stage of the game where it gets tougher for Cove, because they’re expected to run over the top of us. It does spoil the game as a contest, because they’ve got less space to play in.
“Hopefully we’ll have two or three back this week and hopefully we’ll have one in today. We’ve got the Scottish Cup this week and then back to the league. Cove are up to third and I don’t think there’s a great deal between the two teams.”