Peterhead lost out by the odd goal in three to Highland League side Inverurie Locos, as Jim McInally’s reshaped squad were given their first public outing at Harlaw Park on Friday night.
Earlier in the day, SFL clubs had voted to place a Newco Rangers team into the Third Division, and as a result the Blue Toon will open their league campaign against Ally McCoist’s side.
But the build-up to what will be a historic game at Balmoor got off to the worst possible start as a Locos side containing former Peterhead men Graeme Stewart, Andy Bagshaw and Stuart McKay ran out victors.
The home side enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, and rattled the crossbar twice in the opening half-hour.
Peterhead began to work their way into the game, though, and recent signing Stephen Maguire looked lively in the area. On the half-hour, he worked space for an effort, but pulled his shot wide of the goal. A few minutes later, he had another go, this time firing narrowly wide of the top-left corner.
Another summer signing, Scott McLaughlin, looked to have opened the scoring when his effort from range dipped over Locos goalkeeper Stewart Gray, but the goalkeeper threw himself backwards to push the effort round the post. The last action of the first half saw Maguire head down a Graeme Sharp cross, before turning, only to see Adams turn his shot away for a corner.
Peterhead made four changes at half-time with Martin Bavidge and trialist Robbie Winters up front, and Bryan Deasley and Darren Kelly also joining the fray. Bavidge was involved almost immediately as he beat the offside trap to run onto a Strachan ball over the top, but his attempt to curl a low shot round Gray saw the keeper get down to save.
The striker is beginning his testimonial season, and a few minutes later got on the end of a cross from Winters, but was unable to direct his header on target.
A clash between McKay and Kelly saw the latter forced off with a dislocated shoulder, and it was while Peterhead were down to ten men that Locos broke the deadlock. Indeed, it was McKay who created the chances, his cutback from the right turned in at the near post by Neil Gauld. But Peterhead were quickly level after the introduction of Greg Alexander returned them to a full complement.
Graeme Sharp cut in from the right flank and unleashed an effort from 25 yards that took a deflection and looped over Gray, finding the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Locos regained the lead when sloppy play from Strachan in the midfield allowed McKay a chance, and from 20 yards, he fired a low shot in off the inside of McCallum’s right hand post, giving the young goalkeeper no chance.
The Blue Toon will travel to Turriff on Wednesday night, and the Huntly on Sunday afternoon as their pre-season build-up continues.
PETERHEAD: McCallum, Sharp, Noble, S. Ross, Macdonald, Smith (Kelly, 46 (Alexander, 65)), Strachan, Redman (Deasley, 46), McAllister (Bavidge, 46), Maguire (Winters, 46), McLaughlin. Subs not used: Jarvie (gk).