Raith Rovers boss Barry Smith stressed that injuries were a factor after the Kirkcaldy side crashed to a third straight defeat in seven days.
Rovers were without five first-team regulars as they completed a miserable week with a 3-0 defeat to League Two side Peterhead in the Scottish Cup third round.
The Fifers were only able to name three outfield substitutes – all from Craig Easton’s development squad –while two teenagers also started in defence. And Smith expressed sympathy with the youngsters who started after admitting that they are being thrown in when not yet ready for regular first-team football.
He said: “It’s been a horrible week, but we’ll learn from it and get better.
“We went into this game very depleted, but by the same token we still expect better.
“I feel a wee bit sorry for the young boys, Dave McKay and Jamie Watson, who might not be quite ready for the rigours of first-team football, but we’re having to put them in because that’s the position we’re in with such a small squad.
“They shouldn’t be involved in games like that in terms of us educating them and making them better.
“Having said that, we still feel we should have enough experience in there to win games.
“We had a great chance early in the second half and if we take that, we win.
“But take nothing away from Peterhead, they were very good and used the conditions better than we did.”
A bad week that saw Rovers exit two cups and lose to their title rivals, while conceding eight times without reply, has taken some shine off a positive start to the campaign but Smith insists the squad will refocus for the League One promotion push.
“The good thing is we’re still second top of the league, we’ve got a game in hand, and we’re only three points behind,” he said. “We’ve got a good game to play next week in the league so that’s all we look forward to.”
Rovers went into the match minus Kyle Benedictus, Iain Davidson, Kevin McHattie, Lewis Vaughan and Bobby Barr. Striker Jonny Court was handed his first start of the season.
Conditions were tough for players and supporters alike as strong, icy winds blasted Balmoor Stadium.
They were particularly fierce during a first half that saw Raith pinned in their own half against the wind, but determined defending ensured they made it to half-time unscathed.
Rovers had a glorious chance to take the lead two minutes after the restart when the front trio of Liam Buchanan, Court and Greig Spence all saw close range efforts blocked.
However, Peterhead opened the scoring on 56 minutes when Jordon Brown nodded in at the back post.
Raith conceded a second almost immediately when Rory McAllister ghosted in behind the defence to fire a volley past Smith.
From there, a comeback never looked likely as Raith heads dropped, and McAllister rounded off a memorable cup win for the home side with a third goal in the 86th minute.