Peterhead manager Jim McInally tried to remain positive despite the gut-punch nature of his side’s defeat to derby rivals Cove Rangers.
The home side felt aggrieved by the nature of the winning goal, which came from a long clearance from Cove goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie. The Blue Toon felt their stopper Brett Long was impeded by Rory McAllister.
The Cove striker claimed the goal, although footage suggests it went straight in without touching him in the build-up.
McInally was sent off in stoppage-time by referee Mike Roncone, as was Peterhead defender Jason Brown, after they protested the latter having an equaliser chalked off for a similar foul on Cove goalie McKenzie.
“I said to Simon (Ferry) that the referee goes for coffee with (Dundee defender) Cammy Kerr. The linesman said he could hear what I was saying and I said ‘I don’t care, I’m not talking to you,” said McInally. “He then called the referee over.
“I will challenge that as much as I can. That’s just ridiculous. I thought their’s was a goal and the one at the other end was a goal.
“Jason apparently wasn’t anything to do with it (to get sent off). I think it was more Scott Brown was more the culprit. But between him (Roncone) and the linesman, they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
“That’s two games we’ve lost to Cove here and both have been pretty harsh. I thought that was more harsh on Sunday, because we were better than them in the second half.
“We’ve just played the team that’s got a really clear lead and I don’t think there was a lot in the game.”
Peterhead, who handed a debut to trialist Scott Cusick, also had to draft in Broughty Athletic Sean Diamond on an emergency loan after an injury to regular back-up goalkeeper Lenny Wilson.
The game had been heading for a goal-less draw until the late drama, with both sides playing with a great level of intensity but lacking a killer touch.
Aberdeen loanee Ryan Duncan was in impressive form going forward for Peterhead and had several sights of goal, while Cove were not at their best but found a way to win.
That was all that mattered to the Cove boss Paul Hartley, who went into the game with only 14 fit players due to injuries, suspension and Covid.
He added: “Credit to the lads, we just want to keep playing and don’t make any excuses. We just want to get the games on and get as many points as we can.
“It’s a tough league, so we want to try get games on and let everybody else play catch-up.
“We had our fingers crossed in the morning that we didn’t have any more call-offs. We know the situation and what’s going on in the world – look at how many games are being called off – but we’re managing to get through it and get our games on.
“We said to the players we want to keep playing if we can. If it’s 13 or 14 players, then we’ll do our best to get the game on.
“When you come away from home at this stage of the season, it’s vital you win. Sometimes you have to win ugly and we did that.
“Give credit to Peterhead, it was a hard game for us with the conditions. It’s pleasing to get three points and you’ve got to find a different way of winning sometimes.
“We weren’t at our best in the second half, but sometimes you’ve just got to find a way of winning.”