Brora Rangers manager Steven Mackay felt his players fell below standard in their 2-0 first leg defeat to Kelty Hearts in the pyramid play-offs.
The Cattachs went down to a goal in each half from Dylan Easton and Kallum Higginbotham, giving them an uphill task in Saturday’s return leg at New Central Park.
Kelty had started strongly however some outstanding goalkeeping from Joe Malin kept them at bay, with the former Ross County stopper making two penalty saves to deny Higginbotham and Nathan Austin within the first nine minutes.
Mackay felt his side failed to rise to the occasion, and he said: “I just don’t think we turned up at all.
“We asked the boys to start sharp. I felt we would have a little bit of an edge in terms of games we have played, as Kelty have not played in recent weeks and months.
“I just felt we were lethargic, they showed more intent and they were more aggressive in the first half, both with and without the ball. They looked dangerous when they went forward.
“It was the complete opposite to us to be honest.
“It was really surprising. I have always talked positively about our squad and the threats and dangers we pose, but it was an unacceptable performance.
“We have told the players that.
“We knew of their threats, we knew they would be streetwise with the experience in their side. I just think they handled the occasion a lot better than us.”
Mackay paid tribute to Malin for keeping the tie alive going into this weekend’s second leg against the Fifers.
The Brora boss added: “Once again I will come out and talk about Joe Malin. He has kept the score down.
“He saved two penalties, and he had two saves towards the end. The scoreline could have been embarrassing.
“The only positive we can take is the fact it’s only 2-0, as ridiculous as that sounds. I didn’t think I would be saying that before kick-off, that’s for sure.”
Kelty manager Barry Ferguson said: “It was always a worry in the back of my mind because we hadn’t played competitive football since January.
“We’ve only been back just under three weeks.
“So I was happy with the performance, but I still think we can do better at times.
“Overall, though, I’m delighted to come to a place like Brora and win 2-0 because I’ve watched them a number of times and seen the results they’ve had.
“But it’s only half-time.
“We know Brora will cme and throw everything at us and we need to be prepared for that – and I’m sure we will be.”