Peterhead boss Jim McInally saw plenty of positives in his side’s win over 10-man Airdrieonians.
The seventh-placed Blue Toon returned to League One action against the full-time Diamonds at Balmoor, with Jordon Brown’s low 66th-minute finish the difference between the teams.
Victory has moved McInally’s men level on points with the three sides above them, including Airdrie, who Peterhead hadn’t beaten in four attempts since their return to the third tier in 2019.
The home side were able to control proceedings, without creating too many chances, after Kyle Turner’s deserved fourth-minute red card for a late lunge on Ryan Conroy.
McInally thinks – given the mitigating circumstances of 10 weeks in the cold storage – the afternoon went as well as he could have hoped, and said: “I did say earlier in the week that when we’ve played Airdrie before we’ve not had many breaks and obviously we get a break with them getting a man sent off in the fourth minute.
“At the end of the day, we were lucky it wasn’t a serious injury, because it was a shocking tackle.
“Playing against 10 men can be tough, so the pleasing thing for me is we’ve went through 90 minutes, by the time you add time added on, without our goalkeeper having a save to make.”
McInally was delighted with how his players stood up to their first competitive outing since January 2, with their second – a third round Scottish Cup tie against Stenhousemuir – coming tomorrow evening.
The long-serving gaffer, who is trying to lessen the risk of muscle injuries which could blight the third and fourth tier after such a long break, said: “Generally, I’m really pleased.
“I thought Scott Brown was magnificent the whole game and I thought Hamish Ritchie was excellent for a boy making his debut for us.
“He’s a natural footballer, even his pass for the goal – it was completely unselfish, he could’ve hit it himself, but he put it on a plate for Jordon Brown.
“Jordon coming back and scoring is exactly what he always done for us – Popping up in the area and scoring goals.
“It was also good to get Danny Strachan on, a local boy, so it was nice and nice to win, because Airdrie have been a bogey team for us.”
Peterhead started on the front foot, with Payne flashing a header over the right stancheon soon after kick-off, before Turner was dismissed soon after.
The visitors went close on 31 minutes, with Calum Gallagher capitalising on a defensive mishap to crash a left-footed drive off Josh Rae’s bar from 10 yards out.
On 41 minutes, Andrew McCarthy had Peterhead’s only clear-cut opportunity of the first half, but fired past the post from Ritchie’s pinpoint ball.
After the break, Airdrie suffered another early blow as their much-lauded attacker Thomas Robert was stretchered off with what appeared to be an ankle problem.
Peterhead’s man advantage, which had seen them have most of the ball throughout, really began to tell after the hour as they probed for an opener with more urgency.
And, on 66 minutes, they took the lead, with Brown firing low across Airdrie keeper Max Currie from the left corner of the six-yard box after being played in by Ritchie.