Rothes manager Ross Jack was thrilled to see fans back inside Mackessack Park – even if the Speysiders did not give their supporters too much to celebrate against Huntly.
Fraser Robertson’s first-half header from a Craig Cormack cross gave Rothes a 1-0 win over the Black and Golds in Allan Hale’s first competitive game in charge.
After missing out on the club’s 2019-20 Highland League Cup success in October, 200 Rothes supporters were allowed in to watch the victory against Huntly.
Jack said: “It was great to see fans back in the ground again. Everyone was a bit quiet and subdued, but that’s part of the regulations.
“We didn’t give them much to warm their hearts. It was a hard-fought victory and hopefully there will be better performances and they can shout a bit more as the season goes on.
“But it was good to see them back and I’m sure they’ll have been pleased to be back after missing out on the Highland League Cup win.
“I didn’t think we were in danger of losing the game, it was just a struggle from start to finish. But I’m delighted with a clean sheet and three points.”
Fans were also present at Harmsworth Park to witness a five-goal thriller as Buckie Thistle beat Wick Academy 3-2.
Davie Allan hit the crossbar for the Scorries in the first period before Kyle Macleod headed Buckie in front early in the second half.
Ryan Campbell equalised for the hosts before Macleod’s second edged the Jags ahead again and Andrew MacAskill’s penalty made it three before Craig Gunn’s goal set up a grandstand finish.
Buckie boss Graeme Stewart said: “It was a tight game, but I felt we played better in the second half and deserved to nick it. But it was nervy when Wick made it 3-2 with 15 minutes to go.
“You’ve got to get off to a good start, especially this season with only 15 games and on Saturday the other teams that are expected to challenge all won, so we would have been behind them if we hadn’t got a result.
“It was excellent to be playing in front of fans because it creates a bit of atmosphere. The boys enjoyed it and hopefully it can continue.”
Inverurie Locos started their season by defeating Keith 2-0 at Harlaw Park.
Goals in either half from Neil Gauld made the difference, while the Maroons, in Andy Roddie’s first competitive game in charge, finished with 10 men with Craig MacAskill sent off in the second half.
Locos manager Andy Low said: “It was a good team performance. We were made to work hard for it, but it was a good three points.
“The players worked really hard and showed more resilience than we have in the past. That’s something we’ve been working hard on so we’re delighted.
“We’ve worked hard on not giving up chances and I feel if we get that right we’re a strong side going forward.”
Locos had midfielder Hamish Ritchie back after a month on loan at Cove while Keith had loanees Liam Strachan from Formartine and Fraserburgh’s Logan Watt in their squad.
Fraserburgh defeated Lossiemouth 2-0 at Grant Park with second-half goals from Scott Barbour and Gary Harris.
Broch boss Mark Cowie said: “Lossiemouth had a couple of chances but overall we were the dominant side and might have had one or two more on another day.’’
Fort William v Strathspey Thistle was postponed.