A manager of the month award and praise from MSP Stewart Stevenson was not enough for Peterhead to see a way past a plucky Deveronvale side, the Banff hosts hitting the Blue Toon for three on their way to Scottish Cup joy.
Vale, former Highland League winners, made quick work of their Third Division opponents in the first-half, controlling large swathes of the game as they sought cup progression.
The Blue Toon, meanwhile, looking likely to challenge for league honours of their own this season, looked a different side to the team that has held Rangers and drawn the plaudits, finding themselves with a mountain to climb to get back into the game.
A second-half improvement, bringing the score to 3-2, was, ultimately, not enough for McInally to progress in this season’s Scottish Cup, however, a potential tie to Premier League opposition now off the cards for this season.
Speaking on the defeat, McInally said: “We were playing against a team that was fired up, they were warned that it would happen. We never really got started and, when you go three down, you give yourself a mountain to climb.”
McInally will instead have to look to continue the Blue Toon’s positive league form with Berwick arriving at the Balmoor on Saturday, October 6.
A win will break a run of three straight defeats for the Peterhead, their last win coming in a 2-0 victory over Montrose on September 1.
McInally still, however, finds his Peterhead side on the cusp of top spot, three points adrift from current leaders Queens Park, and just two away from second placed, and Third division new boys, Rangers.
“We’re lucky to a certain extent with playing a game on Saturday, knowing a win can see us go top of the league,” said the manager.
McInally was also hopeful the game would see the Blue Toon return to a familiar shape and line-up as had proven successful in their early season triumphs, with players, such as Ryan Strachan, returning from injury.
McInally added: “We need to start showing some character. Why wait until you go behind to get involved in the game?”