Peterhead FC suffered their first competitive loss of the season at the hands of Alloa Athletic in a League Cup match not short on controversy.
Alloa were not the first team from a division above the Toon to visit Balmoor but McInally’s squad were unable to replicate the form which saw them triumph over Ross County, Aberdeen and Brechin City.
Referee David Summers was jeered by the crowd after a soft penalty decision put Paul Hartley’s Alloa side one up.
The atmosphere, subdued in the first 45 minutes, then erupted when Summers astoundingly chose not to send off Alloa goalkeeper Scott Bain for a fierce push on Andy Rodgers.
Peterhead manager Jim McInally remained gratious in defeat and refused to lay the blame at the referee’s door.
He said: “I am not one to speak about referees. We were beaten by a side two leagues above us.
“We gave a really good account of ourselves, and I’ve told the players to put it to the back of their minds.”
Peterhead started the cup tie the brighter of the two sides and midfielder Dean Cowie, after pinching the ball in midfield, nearly played in Rory McAllister in the second minute.
Two minutes later and Cowie’s midfielder partner Jordon Brown - the guile to Cowie’s steel - fired a strong shot just wide of Scott Bain’s left post.
Then followed several more neat exchanges between Cowie and Brown. It is a combination which could prove vital for any success McInally hopes to have this season.
Rory McAllister forced a corner off Alloa midfielder Stephen Simmons but Steven Noble could only nod Cowie’s cross over the bar.
Although McAllister was lively and a constant threat around the box in the first 20 minutes, the home side did not look like scoring.
Alloa’s first sniff at a chance came when Aberdeen loanee Declan McManus nearly picked off a lazy pass from Ryan Strachan, though the defender recovered well.
Before the half hour mark Cowie managed to pick up a yellow card for an enthusiastic challenge on Michael Doyle who struggled to shake of the knock despite the remonstrations of former team mate David Cox.
Throughout the first half Paul Hartley looked the more agitated of the two managers and brought cheers from the crowd when he began bellowing criticism at his young left back Michael Doyle.
With ten minutes to go before the break McManus livened up proceedings with an ambitious overhead kick after the ball bobbled in the crowded Toon box but it hit Strachan rather than the net.
The most entertaining moment of the half came courtesy of whistle-wielding David Summers. After the ball squirmed away from Doyle as he tried to take a free kick, Summers’ woeful attempt at a pass drew guffaws from the 429 spectators.
Alloa looked sharper after the break and after only five minutes Jamie Redman was adjudged to have tripped Conor McCord as he burst into the box. He dusted himself off before sliding the resulting penalty past Graeme Smith.
McInally, who had looked serene in the first 45, was by now pacing in his dugout.
Concerned by the number of fouls given by the referee, he brought off Cowie and Ryan McCann, both of whom had been booked. They were replaced by Andy Rogers and Bryan Gilfillan.
The talking point of the match game 23 minutes into the half when Bain raised both his hands to Rogers’ chest and pushes him to the ground after the striker challenged the keeper for an aerial ball. Rogers went down theatrically and saw yellow. Miraculously Bain escaped with a yellow.
Eight minutes before time and while Peterhead were pushing for a goal Graeme Sharp conceded a free kick which was taken by McCord and headed down and under Smith into the net by Andy Kirk to seal the 2-0 victory for Alloa.
David Cox was presented with the man of the match award for his tireless wing performance.