Jim McInally believes Peterhead are showing signs of progress, even if they are not fully reflected in results.
But manager McInally has been encouraged by some of their displays. Last weekend he was impressed with how the Buchan side rallied in the second half in their 2-1 defeat to league leaders Falkirk.
The Balmoor boss said: “I do feel there are signs of progress. We played the favourites on Saturday and the first half wasn’t good enough, but the second half shows we’re well capable of competing.
“We just need to keep going and keep trying to bring that out of them.
“We’ve showed over the seven games and in the League Cup we can compete and if we get a run when we have more players available it makes us even more competitive. I’m not disheartened.
“When I look at the attempts at goal we had (11 in total) on Saturday and the missed chances that’s pleasing because last season we didn’t have that against Falkirk.”
McInally has also been encouraged by the performances of some of the young players in his squad.
Dundee loan winger Lyall Cameron came off the bench to score at the weekend, while on-loan Dundee United defender Kieran Freeman has featured in every game this term, except the first League Cup group stage fixture against his parent club.
McInally is also hoping Josh Mulligan – another on loan from Dundee – will have a prominent role to play for Peterhead when he returns from an ankle injury in the new year.
McInally added: “When I see what Lyall did on Saturday in a difficult situation, it’s really encouraging.
“It’s really good to see what him and Kieran Freeman as young players are giving us.
“I haven’t moaned about injuries, but Josh Mulligan would have played a big part and hopefully he will have a big part to play come January.
“These boys give you great energy and they’re fearless. One of my criticisms of our players on Saturday was that they had to be cajoled into taking the game to Falkirk and removing the inferiority complex about playing a bigger team.
“Lyall is young boy and he doesn’t have that at all and he shouldn’t really have been out of the team from the week before, but, because it was Falkirk and we needed to do more defensively, I didn’t think that suited him, but I won’t make that mistake again.”
The return of experienced centre-back Gary MacKenzie has also given McInally cause for optimism.
The 35-year-old played 45 minutes against Forfar and 70 against Falkirk in his comeback from an ankle problem.
McInally believes his leadership at the heart of defence is important, while some seasoned watchers of the Blue Toon have made comparisons between MacKenzie to former Inverness Caley Thistle and Dundee defender Bobby Mann, who played for Peterhead from 2007-2011.
McInally said: “I think Gary is just glad to be back playing again. He’s maybe not as mobile as used to be and I know some people have compared him to Bobby Mann.
“I know Bobby was a real stalwart for Peterhead, Gary isn’t quite as quick or as mobile as he used to be, but his organisation and his leadership is massive in that area.
“But Gary’s an imposing guy who doesn’t lose his headers and hopefully we’ll be able to get him into good positions from set pieces and I know he was disappointed not to score one on Saturday.”