A CUTTING edge in the final third is what was missing in the eyes of Nairn County boss Ronnie Sharp after he saw his side edged out by title-chasing Formartine United.
The manager was delighted with the application from his players as they pushed the bookies' favourites to lift the championship all the way in a fast-paced encounter at Station Park.
But two second half goals told in the end for the visitors, who made the home side pay for not cashing in on several first half forays into the final third.
Sharp said: "The effort is there for everyone to see but Formartine's experience told in the end more than anything else."
"We were caught out a little bit for the first goal and the ball skidded off the surface for the second one and then came back off the 'keeper."
"Overall, I am delighted with the performance and I thought we were superb for the first 20 minutes. We played some really good football but we have to take our chances."
Confidence was high in the Station Park ranks after Nairn's first win of the season at Keith on Saturday and Sharp felt that being disappointed with the outcome of this one spoke volumes for how far his troops have progressed in his short spell in charge.
He added: "We only put the team together six weeks ago but I thought we gave a team who are going for the title a really good game. I cannot fault the players for their efforts and I thought they all worked really hard."
"We had the chances in the first half but we need to get them on target. That was the difference - they hit the target with their chances whereas we did not. You saw that with their second goal, which was a shot on target that bounced off the 'keeper before being tucked away."
"We will learn from this but you are talking about a team going for the title and we have matched them and made it difficult for them. The hard work and skills were there, we just need a bit more composure in the last third."
County's players knocked the ball about well in the first half with all eleven players in yellow looking confident in possession.
Sharp stated: "This is what the players have to do and it is the way that we train. Trust is everything on the football park - you need to trust your team mates and the boys seem to at the moment. There are a few things that we need to work on over the course of the season. We have a completely new team but we are competing - the only game we really never competed in was the Buckie game."
"We have now got bodies in, although we have three away for Saturday and the next while, which means it is going to be difficult again."
Sharp takes his side to Clachnacuddin for a derby match on Saturday but he will refuse to use this energy-sapping display as an excuse for any under-performance at Grant Street.
He said: "All of the clubs are playing on Wednesday night, so we will not be affected any worse than anyone else. We will shake tonight off in training tomorrow and see how it goes at the weekend."