When he assesses the 2020-21 season Jim McInally believes it was one in which Peterhead made progress.
The Blue Toon finished seventh in League One with 29 points from 22 games, recording nine wins two draws and 11 defeats.
When last season was cut short the Buchan outfit were a place lower with three points fewer having played 27 games.
Operating with a reduced playing budget and a younger squad than in previous campaigns McInally has been encouraged by how his side fared this term.
He said: “I would assess it as a good season, at the start I think alongside Forfar we were most people’s favourites to go down.
“We’ve played 22 games and won nine, so not far off of half, the one thing we do need to improve on when you look at our losses is getting more draws.
“We never win games that you could say we were lucky to win, but we’ve lost a few games where you could say we were unlucky to lose.
“That’s the thing we need to change. We have improved from last year because we didn’t have as many points after 27 games as we’ve got this year.
“You’ve got to look for signs of progression and I can see that progression from last season.
“But the important thing now is that we need to get these players resigned and that’s the next step.
“There’s no doubt when you watch them play that there is the nucleus of a good side.
“If you look at somebody like Montrose they have progressed and they haven’t changed much over the years so I think we need to learn from that.
“Financially we won’t be any better off next season so we’ll need to work with what we’ve got again like this season.
“That was a pleasing thing about this season that we dealt with having a smaller budget.
“The players deserve the credit because they took wage cuts, they’ve won nine games and never had a bonus, they’ve never asked for a bonus and I don’t think as a club you can ask for any more than that from your players.”
Challenges of a unique season
It has been a challenging season for a number of reasons.
The lower leagues didn’t begin until October because of the pandemic, while football below the Championship was again suspended between January and March.
And with the exception of Ross County, Inverness Caley Thistle and Elgin City – who were all allowed up to 300 supporters at one stage – every other SPFL club has played behind closed doors all season.
McInally added: “We’ve finished a comfortable seventh and with everything that’s gone on, with the stop-start nature, the administration hell that was getting thrown upon us and we needed luck with injuries after the restart and I think we got that.
“We wanted through it and just wanted to survive this season and we’ve done it quite well.”
The importance of recruitment
McInally is looking to add to his squad this summer in a bid to improve again next season.
Although some of his key signings last summer didn’t work out as hoped, McInally was pleased with his recruitment in the early part of this year.
He said: “Our key signings last year didn’t work us for us really like Gary MacKenzie (who retired in March) and Isaac Layne (who was loaned to Dumbarton in March), for vastly different reasons.
“We just need to try to hope that the guys we bring in this summer can make that difference and help the other players out.
Work rate ✅
Dancing feet ✅
Ice cool finishing ✅
— SPFL (@spfl) April 26, 2021
“I think our restart signings have been good. Hamish (Ritchie) has been really good and Niah (Payne) as well, Andrew McDonald and Danny Strachan have done really well for us as well and they’re all young players.
“When I was assessing things at the time I wondered if all the young players we signed would be enough, but they’ve been more than enough.
“That’s why I’m happy we’ve survived this season and can start planning for next season.”