Formartine United manager Stuart Anderson praised his players and groundsman Paul Fiske after they beat Breedon Highland League champions Brechin City.
The Pitmedden side won a thrilling encounter 4-3 at North Lodge Park to move up to third in the table.
Following the recent heavy rain it was a credit to Fiske and his helpers that the pitch was playable.
Anderson said: “It was great to get the game on, there have been a couple of games this season that have been in doubt and Paul’s done a great job which we’re grateful for.
“We had a full hospitality lounge as well so we were desperate to get the game on.
“It was an entertaining game again, I think we deserved it on chances created.
“We knew we would carry a threat as we always have this season and we’re delighted to get the win.”
When asked about the prospects of his side challenging for the title, Anderson added: “There’s five, six or seven teams in a title race at this moment in time.
“You’ll see where you are at the end of February. I think in terms of the points total and some of the performances we’ve had it’s been excellent.
“We’ve had five long term injuries this season so in terms of where we are I can’t praise the boys highly enough.”
Brechin had 18-year-old Dundee United midfielder Craig Moore on their bench after he joined on loan on Saturday morning. Scone Thistle striker Sean Hastie and midfielder Lewis Raeside were also in the Hedgemen squad as trialists.
The visitors took the lead in the 10th minute with Ewan Loudon lashing a superb right foot shot into the left corner from 25 yards.
In response Formartine captain Graeme Rodger beat goalkeeper Lenny Wilson to a ball in behind, but the hosts couldn’t capitalise on the opening.
At the other end Ewen Macdonald made a good block to thwart Liam Duell, who was through on goal.
Just after the half hour mark Formartine restored parity. Adam Emslie crossed from the right and Marc Lawrence controlled before seeing his 15-yard shot deflected beyond the helpless Wilson by Lewis Martin.
In the 35th minute the home side took the lead, Lawrence’s pass forward was flicked on by Julian Wade to release Graeme Rodger.
His strike from 10 yards was saved by Wilson, but Rodger retrieved the loose ball and teed up Scott Lisle, his attempt was blocked by Seth Patrick on the line, but Wade slid in and forced the ball into the net.
On 43 minutes Formartine struck again as Wade headed down Dylan Lobban’s cross from the left for Rodger – who broke through untracked – and coolly found the bottom left corner.
Before the first half was over Rodger fired narrowly over from 20 yards, but four minutes into the second period Brechin pulled a goal back.
City try to respond
Marc Scott crossed from the right and Loudon headed home from eight yards.
Soon after Macdonald made an excellent save to keep out Grady McGrath’s deflected strike from Fraser MacLeod’s low corner.
Formartine restored their two-goal lead on 62 minutes. Michael McArthur pass back to Wilson was intercepted by Wade at the right edge of the box.
Although the goalkeeper blocked Wade’s attempt the loose ball fell for Emslie and the on-loan Aberdeen winger curled into the unguarded net.
Brechin set up a grandstand finish when trialist Hastie bundled home their third from close range after Scott crossed from the right on 79 minutes.
Formartine held on, but had defender Rhys Thomas sent off in the fifth minute of injury time after receiving a second yellow card from referee Lewis Brown for scything down Lewis MacLeod.
After back-to-back losses Brechin boss Gavin Price said: “It was a very good first 20 minutes controlling the game.
“Then it was such a Jekyll and Hyde first half, we got deeper and deeper and for a team with the best defensive record in the league it was quite astonishing to see that.
“We’ve had a few harsh words about why it happened and we need to make sure this is a one-off in terms of the goals we lost.
“With the chances we created over the piece then we should have had enough to win the game if we’d defended properly in the first half.
“We’ve got to make sure this is a one-off and learn from why these things happened.”
On loan signing Moore and his two trialists, Price added: “Sean has that fearlessness to put himself about and cause problems for defenders.
“I was very pleased with him. I’d have liked to have given Craig a run-out, but we were chasing the game and it wasn’t really a sub I could make.
“Lewis is a good prospect and we’ll see what transpires.”
Elsewhere, Buckie Thistle v Clachnacuddin at Victoria Park, Brora Rangers v Nairn County at Dudgeon Park and Wick Academy v Banks o’ Dee at Harmsworth Park were postponed.