In the wake of Peterhead’s 2-1 Scottish Cup defeat at Berwick Rangers, manager Jim McInally conceded that he got key decisions wrong.
McInally’s men surrendered a half-time lead to the Black and Gold and crashed out of a third and final cup competition in the process.
The Peterhead starting 11 saw three changes from the team which beat Albion Rovers a week earlier.
Crucially, McInally chose to leave combative midfielder Dean Cowie on the bench.
The manager said: “I might have got it wrong with the team selection with Dean Cowie - he is a player who is vital to us.
“But he intimated to me that he’s not going to be available next week and I felt I had to be fair to the rest of the players.
“I tried to go with players who would be available and I maybe got that wrong - it was maybe wrong for me to do that.”
McInally also lost Cowie’s midfield parter Bryan Gilfillan.
“We lost Gilfillan in the morning, he was feeling he had a tight calf.
“So we’d lost the hub of our team from the week before.
“It wasn’t ideal but we’ve got a squad where we should be able to cope with that.”
The Blue Toon cause was not helped by a 78th minute red card for winger David Cox.
Cox, known for his fiery temperament and full-blooded tackling, was booked early on and then was sent off for a tackle on Kenny O’Brien with the match finely poised at 1-1.
McInally said: “It shouldn’t happen but to be honest I’ve got to take the blame for us going down to 10 men. I should have taken Coxy off.
“I got it wrong twice - not taking Coxy off and picking the team.”
Toon goalkeeper Graeme Smith, who has now gone 12 competitive matches without a clean sheet, stressed the difficulties of team selection.
He said: “If you’re playing well and things are going well and you’re full of confidence then the team picks itself because you don’t want to change a winning team.
“When the results are inconsistent the manager is trying to pick the best 11 he can play to suit the opposition.
“At the same time, work commitments or wee niggling injuries mean people miss games.
“That’s part and parcel of football but I firmly believe we’ve got the best squad of players in the league.
“The team changing doesn’t bother me. Even when the top teams are winning they’re chopping and changing their starting 11.
“The guys who come in know what’s required to win the league.”
Peterhead face Clyde on Saturday at Balmoor and McInally will have to make do without Cowie.
Scott Ross, a regular starter in defence, is also likely to be unavailable due to an injury picked up against Berwick.