THE loss of two early goals undermined what was a sterling performance from Nairn County at Cove Rangers as boss Ronnie Sharp rued his side's lack of concentration just after kick-off.
Daniel Park and Mitch Megginson had the hosts 2-0 up with just eight minutes on the clock but County settled and took the game to the reigning champions, pulling a goal back through Gregg Main's impressive free kick.
Sharp said: "It was the same old story with concentration levels and we started very poorly again. That is two games on the trot now we have been chasing it from early on and I thought we had got over that."
"For the rest of the game, we battled against a very good Cove side. We struggled a bit in the first half but I thought we were very good in the second half."
He added: "Towards the end, they were taking the ball into the corners, which tells you something. We put them under a good bit of pressure without making too many clear cut chances, although we had a few half chances."
"I thought all of the boys put in a great performance. We came a long way on a Wednesday night with some boys missing and some arriving really late because they could not get off work in time. All things considered, I am delighted with the way we battled."
Main's free kick saw him mark his return to the team in style having been ruled out since April with an ankle injury.
Sharp commented: "It was great for Gregg to get on the score sheet in his first game back and it was a tremendous free kick. It was good to get him back in the side and I thought he had a really good game in the middle of the park."
Jason Morganti also came into the team for his first start since joining from Nairn St Ninian in the summer.
Sharp said: "That was his first full game because he has been struggling with an ankle knock."
"He had a really good game and put in a powerful shift on the right hand side. Hopefully, he can stay fit now and we will see the benefits of that throughout the season."
He added: "We changed things about at the back and I thought it was one of Dylan (Maclean)'s quietest games in goal. He did not have to pull off very good saves to keep us in the game. They probably only missed one major chance other than their two goals but that was it."
The manager is now calling on his players to eradicate the loss of early goals and take the level of performance from this match into the week.
"At the moment, it is every second or third game where we play well," he stated. "But we now need to take this into every game. We also need to stop the early goals to give ourselves a chance of getting a grip in the game."
"In the games where we have not given away early goals and played well in, we have got points."