Jim McInally’s charges, fresh from a dominant performance against second-placed Annan in the week, struggled to overcome local rivals Elgin.
The visitors, twice behind thanks to goals from Allen McKenzie and Shane Sutherland, were handed a lifeline when Jamie Duff was sent off early in the second half.
McInally praised his walking wounded: “It was a mixture of us playing badly and them playing well.
“There wasn’t a lot of energy there and I wasn’t surprised we weren’t playing as well as we could have done.
“The red card was a bonus. I was still confident we would have got back into it because we were already camped in their half but it allowed us to keep the ball.”
McInally revealed that a number of his players were struggling to shake of tiredness and muscle stiffness.
Dean Cowie was taken off at half time and both Andy Rodgers and Rory McAllister were toiling up front..
Elgin had started better and scored after only six minutes, with McKenzie scoring his first in the back and white of the home side.
Andy Rodgers was on hand to bring the scores level with a tap in before goalkeeper Graeme Smith kept the visitors in it with a fine save from a Dennis Wyness shot.
Despite his best efforts, Shane Sutherland put Elgin ahead with a deflected shot.
The sending off early in the second half changed the game and allowed the Blue Toon to control the ball.
McAllister netted twice to rescue a win.
Peterhead: Smith, Sharp, Noble, Smith, Strachan, Ross, Redman, Cowie (Brown), McAllister, Rodgers (McCann), Gilfillan (McLaren);
Unused: Jarvie (GK), McGlinchey, Richardson, Low;
Referee Nick Walsh