RONNIE Sharp refused to be downbeat having seen his Nairn County side lose by a single goal for the sixth time this season thanks to Inverurie Locos' 3-2 success in an entertaining encounter at Station Park.
County had the bulk of the early chances but only one goal to show for it with Gregg Main despatching a penalty kick.
That meant that when Neil McLean's free kick struck the unaware Colin Charlesworth and flew into the Nairn net that Inverurie suddenly found themselves level with Dean Donaldson heading the visitors in front after the break.
Jordan Macrae lashed home his first Highland League goal to equalise for Nairn with a little under half-an-hour still to play but despite County hitting the woodwork a total of three times, it was Inverurie who claimed all three points with a late winner that was harsh on the hosts.
Sharp said: "We missed three or four good chances in the first 20 minutes and that would have put us comfortably in front at the start of the game. At half time, 1-1 was probably a fair result though as they came back into it during the second period of the first half."
"I thought the second half was pretty even. You could say that missed chances costs us but we are still a work-in-progress. We hit the woodwork three times and if they go two or three inches the other side then they are goals."
"The goals we lost were disappointing. We gave away silly free kicks and put ourselves under pressure as it allowed them to put balls into the box. I thought we played really well though and it was a good game overall."
"They are quite a decent side and that is them now won six games in a row, so fair play to them on that. I think we are on a par with these sorts of teams though and there was some good quality football there. Some of the stuff we produced was really good but when you are on top in the first 20 minutes as much as we were then you have to take these chances and we did not manage to do that."
"That would have put a different complexion on the game because goals give you confidence. At half time, we were deflated at going in at 1-1. If you go back to last week, we were 3-1 down at half time but we knew we were playing well and had scored just before half time. At 1-1 at half time today though, we were down on ourselves for not holding on to the lead or increasing it and we need to get out of that because that is what probably cost us their second goal."
"After that, we played really well again and Jordan (Macrae) got off the mark with his first goal for the club. I thought he had an excellent game and we did not have a bad player anywhere on the park - it was just down to those little, silly mistakes that we make at times."
Sharp saw Kenny McKenzie and Wayne Mackintosh strike the post at different points during the first half with Ross Naismith also denied by the woodwork after the break. McKenzie and Gary Kerr also saw shots cleared off the Inverurie goal line during the opening 45 minutes.
"nches make a difference in games,"Sharp exclaimed. "We hit the woodwork a few times and they have got the break of the ball for the winning goal off Callum (Maclean)'s clearance."
"I thought we played well enough overall and it was a pretty even game between the two teams. If you put in good performances then you will get the good results but sometimes we just lack that little killer instinct. But you can put that down to a lack of experience."
Despite the defeat, Sharp has been delighted with how his team has fared over the last few weeks with wins against Lossiemouth, Rothes and Huntly and a hard-fought draw with Forres Mechanics mixed in with narrow defeats to Turriff United and Cove Rangers before today.
He said: "We have made big, big progress since the start of the season."
"Our poorest performance of the year was probably the one against Clach and we have come on leaps and bounds since then."
"Some of the football we play is really good. We have managed to play some nice, two-touch stuff but as I said, we are still learning."
A healthy crowd turned out at Station Park for the game and Sharp hopes that despite the defeat, the majority will return to watch the team again.
He said: "The fans are not leaving but are sticking with us and hopefully that is because they know we are in the games right until the end, we are going to try right until the end and we are giving everything that we have got."
"You saw that today at the end when we were pushing really hard to try to find an equaliser. There was a good turnout today and they were fantastic again. I cannot thank them enough and I hope they stay with us."
County travel to face free-scoring Brora Rangers next Saturday in a reverse of a fixture from the opening day of the season. And Sharp is sure to have a job on his hands with the Cattachs putting eight unanswered goals past Fort William this weekend.
The boss stated: "It is going to be a hard game because they are a really top side. They beat us early in the season but we have come on, so hopefully we can give them a game. I think Gregg Main's yellow card will mean that he is suspended and that will be a big miss because since he has come back from injury, he has made a big difference for us in the middle of the park."