Edinburgh City boss James McDonaugh was satisfied with a point after a 0-0 home draw with Peterhead.
An even first half saw chances for either side before the Blue Toon dominated the second 45, but were unable to break down a well-organised City defence.
“It’s absolutely a good point,” said McDonaugh. “For me, they’re probably the best team in the league and I said that before the game, although Montrose are proving differently at the moment. A point for us is a good point.”
A clean sheet was also pleasing against the division’s top scorers. “Rory McAllister is obviously the big player in this league and we’ve gone in to this one disappointed with our last three games,” he explained. “We’d conceded seven goals in those three games and that’s been our worst spell since I’ve come in in terms of goals against.
“All week we’ve been working on that and I think we defended brilliantly in the second half when they threw everything at us.”
City were missing regular strike duo Farid El Alagui and Scott Shepherd, and their options decreased when Ashley Grimes was forced off in the first half. “Every week we have somebody else out,” said McDonaugh. “We had Scotty Shepherd out and Farid unavailable so we were struggling up front, then Grimes pulls up with the hamstring.
“The players deserve an enormous amount of credit. I think we were the better team in the first half and Grimes should have scored. Second half it was waves of defence for us. Peterhead were on top constantly and it was really difficult at times.”
Craig Thomson’s corner presented a chance City probably could have done better with after just a minute. Stuart Morrison helped it on its way but Pat Scullion’s attempt to turn it goalward was unsuccessful, although in fairness it came at him very quickly.
The hosts should have converted ten minutes later. Josh Walker won possession on the right and crossed for Grimes, but the striker got his volley all wrong, effectively cushioning the ball down for Greg Fleming to gather.
A free header at the back post for Jordan Brown was the clearest opportunity Peterhead created, but the full back could only nod tamely in to Calum Antell’s arms. Chris Johnston’s strike had the Welsh goalkeeper moving, but bounced wide of the far post.
Jamie Stevenson’s early second-half strike swerved enough to cause Antell to fumble it over the bar more than parry it, before McAllister’s header from the resulting corner was straight at him.
The City keeper had to be at full stretch to get the faintest of touches to Jack Leitch’s effort, that still brushed the bar on its way over.
A similar swerving strike to Stevenson’s from Thomson required a fine save from Fleming to keep it out, the keeper doing well to track the the ball.
Substitute Russell McLean managed to muscle his way past Jesus Garcia Tena to put him in on goal, but got his angles all wrong and side footed harmlessly wide. McLean spurned another opportunity for the visitors after controlling McAllister’s cut back but stabbing wide.
Visiting manager Jim McInally felt his side were denied a definite penalty for a perceived foul on McAllister. “It was an absolute stonewall penalty,” he insisted. “I’ve given up speaking to refs, though. He’s struggling enough with his game without me going in to talk to him.
“We’re disappointed. Big Russell’s missed a real snip to put the ball away when he came on and we just needed to take one of those chances.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, Walker (Caddow 90), Laird, Thomson, Blues, Grimes (Beattie 37), Taylor (Hall 90), Dunn, Garcia Tena, Morrison, Scullion.
Peterhead: Fleming, Jason Brown, McIlDuff, Leitch, McCracken, Smith (McLean 66), Stevenson (Ferry 82), S Brown, McAllister. Johnston (Jordan Brown 66), Gibson.
Referee: Steven Reid