Plucky Peterhead went down 2-0 to Premiership Aberdeen courtesy of a Christian Ramirez double at a packed Balmoor in their opening Premier Sports Cup Group game however the knee injury suffered by Blue Toon player Hamish Ritchie was more disappointing than the result.
Ritchie was stretchered off early in the second half after a collision with Ross McCrorie and everyone at the club is hoping that the extent of the injury is not as bad as it first looked.
Manager Jim McInally gave debuts to goalkeeper Jack Newman as well as strikers Ola Adeyemo and Conor O’Keefe with Danny Strachan and Ryan Dow handed starts in their third and second spells with the club respectively.
New boys Sandy Wood, Robbie McGale and Cody McLeod were on a small substitutes’ bench alongside a far from match ready Ryan Strachan.
Peterhead made a bright start and Danny Strachan started a promising attack on two minutes however the Aberdeen defence ensured that it fizzled out.
Two minutes later Dons debutant Mason Hancock was robbed 20 yards from his own goal by Ritchie and the ball was eventually fed out to O’Keefe on the left, however his shot did not trouble Kelle Roos.
That early chance for the hosts did not panic Aberdeen and 60 seconds later McCrorie cracked a left foot shot past Newman from 25 yards only for it to come crashing back off the bar and hit the goalkeeper on the back before going wide for a corner.
On 10 minutes Matty Kennedy sent a volley dipping over Newman’s bar and five minutes later the on-loan Dundee United shot-stopper showed a fine turn of speed as he raced from his goal-line and pushed the ball away from Vincente Besuijen’s path after a pass from Liam Scales had reached the Dutchman.
Twelve minutes later Newman shone again as he got down low to his right to touch a low McCrorie shot past for a corner after a lightning-fast raid by the Pittodrie men.
On 34 minutes another fast-paced attack by the Dons, following a long pass from Dante Polvara, saw the ball cut-back to Ramirez and the American’s first time shot looked to have broken the deadlock until Newman produced another fine stop.
Another chance for the visitors came 60 seconds later when a Kennedy corner reached Jayden Richardson at the back post and he stabbed it across goal however recently introduced substitute Marley Watkins failed to turn it over the line.
On 42 minutes it looked like McCrorie had finally scored when he whipped in a Richardson pass from the by-line however referee David Dickinson ended the red and white cheers when he chalked off the goal for a push on Jack Brown.
Peterhead’s joy at starting the second half goalless quickly turned to despair when Ritchie collided with McCrorie in midfield and after a lengthy delay for treatment the Balmoor man was stretchered off.
McGale came on and as the home side regrouped McCrorie picked out Ramirez however his header dropped into Newman’s hands and the same fate was met when the Pittodrie striker tried a backheel shortly afterwards.
Jim McInally’s side then had their best spell of the game where they had visiting fans fearing the loss of a goal.
Dow showed his class on 58 minutes when he picked the ball up 30 yards from the Aberdeen goal and sent in a swerving, dipping shot that looked goal bound all the way until Roos produced a spectacular stop.
From the resultant corner the ball eventually dropped to Peterhead skipper Paul Dixon and he was able to flick it past Roos however Scales popped up on the line to clear.
From that corner Jordon Brown had a glimpse of goal but his shot was charged down and when Aberdeen regained their composure Newman was again equal to a header from Ramirez.
The deadlock was broken just after the hour mark when Newman was finally beaten from the penalty spot. Kennedy cut in from the right wing and as he made his way across the 18-yard line he became tangled with Jack Brown, and fell to the turf, with Ramirez sending the spot-kick in one direction with Newman going in the other.
Ryan Duncan, who starred on loan for Peterhead last season, came on for Kennedy on 72 minutes and two minutes later it was 2-0 when trickery from Watkins allowed him to progress in the penalty box and cross for Ramirez who headed into the net despite a brave attempt to save by Newman.
In the closing stages Besuijen fired wide with Newman producing another fine save as he dealt with a Polvara drive from 25 yards.
Peterhead – Newman, Strachan, Wilson, Dixon, McDonald, Jack Brown, Jordon Brown, Ritchie (McGale 49), Dow, O’Keefe, Adeyemo (McLeod 64)
Unused substitutes – Strachan, Wood (G/k)