Peterhead ended their eight-game winless run in League One but for manager Jim McInally, it was far too close for comfort.
The Blue Toon blew a three-goal lead before eventually coming out on top 4-3 against nine-man Dumbarton, in a chaotic afternoon at Balmoor.
After the game had been delayed due to an injury to one of the linesmen, Peterhead roared into a 3-0 lead through a Hamish Ritchie brace and a Russell McLean header.
The visitors had Paul Paton sent off for two yellow cards in a miserable first half.
But Ross MacLean was gifted a goal by the home defence and then Eoghan Stokes smuggled in a second to fray Peterhead nerves.
Grant Savoury extended the lead again before MacLean was then sent off, with Carlo Pignatiello bagging a late third to create further tension.
While picking up their first win since they last faced Dumbarton was a positive, McInally knew they could have made life much easier for themselves.
McInally said: “That’s the poorest 45 they’ve played in a long time. I won’t dwell on it too much because the first 45 was really good.
“I know the weather played a part in the game but we were slack in the second half. Dumbarton played in a kamikaze way in the second half where they were either going to get thrashed, or get back in the game. They got back in the game.
“I know their goalie has had some good saves and we’ve had some misses, but our goalie has not had a save to make. We’ve shot ourselves in the foot with a short free-kick by the corner flag.
“We’ve lost a goal from a short back-pass and it was like a comedy of errors. Their third goal, we’re breaking away and you’re thinking we can put it to bed. We lose the ball to the one player that’s back and lose a third goal.
“The standards we have are like the first half. Hamish Ritchie was different class in the first half but started the second really slack. He could have been substituted sooner.
“We wanted to get a message on that it wasn’t good enough. There was a rot set in and we couldn’t get out.
“I know I should be happy because we’ve won and we hadn’t won since we last played Dumbarton. But that’s just the way it is.”
Ritchie got his first goal after four minutes, turning in Niah Payne’s cross, then McLean headed in his corner from six yards.
A well-worked set-piece return gave Ritchie the chance for his second, which he converted well, then Paton was dismissed for hacking down Savoury.
But the Sons scrapped their way back into the game, with MacLean capitalising on a poor back-pass from Andy McDonald to score, then Stokes was able to smuggle in Joe McKee’s corner.
Dumbarton stopper Kieran Wright made a superb double-stop to keep out Savoury and Niah Payne before Savoury tucked away the goal that appeared to kill the game.
MacLean was then given his second booking for a foul on McDonald before Pignatiello fired through a crowd of players to reduce the deficit again.
Full Time: Peterhead 4-3 @Dumbartonfc
— Peterhead FC (@pfcofficial) February 26, 2022
The win lifts Peterhead above Dumbarton but McInally reckons you could see players perhaps short on confidence.
He added: “You need to be bigger and better than that. I wouldn’t have minded if it was a team putting us under pressure. But they weren’t.
“Credit to them. With a bit of care we could have scored a lot of goals but they played to get back in the game. Credit to their manager for being as brave as that.
“But we should have taken advantage of that situation and we didn’t. I’m delighted with the result but not the second-half performance.”