COVE Rangers’ Ryan Stott’s calm spot-kick proved the winner in a tense battle with Clachnacuddin at Grant Street.
The victory kept Cove in front in the title race while dealing Clach’s chances a bitter blow.
Indeed, it proved a bad day for all three north contenders in the title race. As well as Clach’s defeat, Wick lost 2-0 at Inverurie, while Nairn County drew 1-1 with Fraserburgh at home.
However, Formartine – who beat Fort William 4-1 at home – remain clear favourites with Steve Paterson’s side six points behind Cove but with five games in hand.
Wick Academy went behind at Inverurie after only 34 seconds to Neil Gauld’s goal with John Maitland also netting late on while Nairn dropped two points at home to Fraserburgh with Mike Morrison scoring at both ends. Meanwhile, Brora Rangers destroyed Turriff 4-0 and Deveronvale thrashed strugglers Rothes 5-0 in Banff.
Forres Mechanics won 1-0 at Huntly, while Buckie triumphed 2-1 at Keith and Strathspey saw off Lossiemouth 3-1.