Bringing Aberdeen’s Jordon Brown to Balmoor appeared to be a summer coup for Peterhead boss Jim McInally, writes Joshua King.
The attacking midfielder stole the headlines when he netted twice against his former club in a 3-2 preseason victory (pictured).
But Brown has found it had to hold down a starting berth in McInallly’s title-chasing team.
Often overlooked for the more combative trio of Jamie Redman, Bryan Gilfillan and in particular Dean Cowie, the 21-year-old has had to bide his time.
But when Cowie picked up a broken metatarsal in the abandoned game against Annan Athletic - an injury which could rule him out for five games - McInally trusted Brown to deputise.
He started against Stirling Albion on Saturday and, according to his manager, put in his best performance in the blue of Peterhead.
Brown said: “Deano’s been brilliant for the team with the way he goes about his game.
“I felt I couldn’t go in there and let the team down.
“The manager just said to be a better all round midfielder, rather than just being in the box to score goals.
“On Saturday against Stirling I felt I did that.”
Behind the scenes, McInally and his coaching staff have been working with Brown to reshape him into a more complete midfielder, suited to the grit of lower league football.
McInally says no player in his squad has a better attitude.
Brown continued: “It’s been a difficult year and the amount of adapting I’ve had to do has taken it’s toll.
“I’m keeping my head down, working hard and trying to keep myself in the manager’s thoughts.
“I’ve been in and out, but with the team winning game after game I can’t really complain.
“I’m in a winning team challenging for a league and it’s not often a player has the chance to do that.
“That trophy is the target and hopefully when I look back at the end of the season it will all have been worth it.”
It is no secret McInally favours the steel of midfielders like Cowie and Redman, afterall he played a similar role in Dundee United’s run to the UEFA Cup final in the 1986-87 season.
Since Brown’s arrival his manager has tried to help Jordon stamp his authority on games in that way, and behind the scenes McInally and his coaching staff praise the youngster’s committment to adapting his game.
After Saturday’s victory, McInally said: “Jordon just played his best game for Peterhead.
“I thought he played well in what was a really tough game. He won his tackles and used the ball well.
“I was so happy for him because he’s such a good boy and he works so hard at his game.
“He’s been down in the dumps a wee bit - he was ill over Christmas and hasn’t started as much as he’d like to.
“He was seen as an attack-minded midfielder who always played in an advanced position and in the real world at our level that doesn’t happen.
“You’ve got to take your bangs, you’ve got to fight your corner. Jordon did that against Stirling.”