A MIDWEEK 3-0 defeat at title chasers Inverurie Locos was rough justice for Keith’s best performance of the season, claimed manager Graham McBeath.
The Maroons boss said his team let Locos off the hook by missing good scoring opportunities, but was pleased with the way his players matched a side who are flying high in the Highland League.
Most importantly, McBeath said his men gave him a reaction from a limp second-half display at Inverness on Saturday when they lost 4-2 at Clach.
“I was pleased with the possession we had. We certainly has as much of the ball as Locos had, and it’s probably the best stuff we’ve played.
“I think we had the best chances in the game but didn’t take them, and my only disappointment was with the quality of goals we lost.”
Defender Bruce Milne struck the Inverurie bar with a free header which he should have scored, McBeath said, while Mike Ewen and Stuart Massie both passed up good opportunities later in the game.
Locos’ opener from a long ball flicked on by Martin Bavidge for Neil Gauld to score, was exactly the type of move Keith had been warned about, their manager said.
“The second one might have been a cross by Bavidge which caught out our goalkeeper, Daniel Bell, and ended up in the top corner,” he said.
Ross Forsyth added a third for the home side just after the hour to maintain their 100% start to the season, but McBeath saw plenty positives to take from the match.
He was however critical of his team’s collapse at Clach on Saturday after a solid first-half showing.
Bruce Milne’s 15th minute strike cancelled out an early home opener as Keith went in at the break all square. But two goals in a 10-minute spell in the second half took the game beyond Keith, who netted through Sean Keith after Clach had grabbed a late fourth.
“It was poor stuff from our point of view, especially after playing so well in the first half. So I’m pleased we got a reaction at Locos, even if we didn’t get a result.”
Next up for the Maroons is a home double-header as they welcome Forres Mechanics on league business this weekend, before hosting Buckie Thistle in the Aberdeenshire Cup on Wednesday.
With summer signing Ewen and defensive pair Milne and Michael Ralton now free of suspension and injury, McBeath has virtually a full squad to pick from.
Striker Craig Cormack should be fit to come back from a groin pull and face Forres on Saturday, leaving 17-year-old prospect Hamish Ritchie as the only injury doubt due to a back strain.
McBeath is also keen to give recent signings Scott Whelan and Gary Kelman more game time, and is urging both players to keep knocking on the door so they can win a place in his starting line-up.
On the threat posed by Saturday’s opponents Forres, McBeath said: “They’ve just had a couple of decent wins against Buckie and Lossie, so fair play to them. We know what we’ll get from Forres and they turned us over at Keith at the start of the year.
“Hopefully we can show we’ve improved since then and can give them a good game.
“We know we’ll have to compete in all areas of the park but I think we’ve got enough quality to keep the ball and cause them problems as well.”