Peterhead co-manager Jordon Brown has challenged his side to channel their Scottish Cup heartache into their title challenge in League Two.
The Blue Toon suffered a cruel exit in the third round last weekend after losing 2-1 to Championship side Ayr United at Balmoor Stadium.
Peterhead conceded an injury-time equaliser to the Honest Men who went on to clinch victory by scoring the winner five minutes from the end of extra-time.
Brown believes the players can use their disappointment as a motivator as they return to league duty.
He said: “It was the sorest one we’ve taken for a while. We were down to the bare bones and everyone who played left everything out there on the pitch.
“There was frustration at the end with the ball hitting the corner flag then going out for the corner before they score in added on time of injury time.
“We regrouped and went again in extra-time before suffering the sucker punch of conceding five minutes from the end.
“It was a bitter blow but there were positives to be taken in terms of how we played against a Championship side and a lot of pride too.
“We have to take that into the league games we’ve got ahead of us.”
Run of home games crucial for Blue Toon
Following the cup exit Peterhead’s focus is now firmly on league duty and with three of the next four matches at home Brown knows they have a chance to cement their place as title challengers at the top of the table.
He said: “We seem to have a few away trips then a few home games bunched together.
“We need to make our home games count but our performances at home have gotten better as the season has progressed.
“We have a good chance to put a run together again and stay up there at the top of the league.”
The Blue Toon are going well in the division with 21 points from a possible 24 taking the club to second in the division where they trail Stenhousemuir on goal difference.
With another important match against a title rival in Dumbarton next up today Brown knows it is vital his side pick up another three points.
He said: “We had a long week with two tough away games against two of the top teams and we went into the Ayr game light on bodies after picking up a couple of injuries in training.
“The next important game is now Dumbarton, another of the top teams.
“It’s been a difficult run for us but if we want to be up there challenging these are the games we need to be winning.
“It feels as if it is a busy period coming up around Christmas.
“We’re coming towards the end of the second quarter which is when the gaps start to open up and we have to make sure we’re on the right side of the gap going into the New Year as we try to achieve our goal of winning promotion.”
Co-boss Strachan and Andy McCarthy are set to return while captain Jason Brown faces a late fitness test.