Guilty in the past of complacency Arbroath showed a glimpse of their previous failures on Saturday as they took their eye off the ball too early.
Despite the almost costly momentary lapse in concentration, manager Allan Moore was impressed with their execution and composure.
He said: “The boys put in one of the best performances they’ve demonstrated for the last few weeks.
“I think we just lost our concentration.
“I thought at 3-0 I was going to go in and give them a pat on the back, saying ‘that’s the best performance we’ve had for a while guys’. Everybody was doing their jobs and then we just switch off.
There can be little excuse for the quick succession of goals after 80 minutes of such stand out play.
Some late substitutions could be blamed for the drop in attention as Buchan, McManus and Lowdon replaced Smith, Murray and Carrerio. However, Moore’s decision to replace the front men cannot be blamed for the failures at the back.
“On reflection, the changes don’t have anything to do with the final score.
“The game turns on goals and those goals gave Annan a wee lift.”
Closely scrutinised video footage of the visitors prepared the Maroons for a team who can fight back from the doldrums, but the last minute oversight put paid to their preparation.
Moore said: “We’ve turned a really good performance for 80 minutes into one that’s going to have people saying ‘oh that was close’. It was only close for the last five minutes, the rest of the game we absolutely dominated it - battered them!”
A close finish can be easily put behind them but the Lichties have got to watch their backs as the goal difference gap closes and the pressure mounts from Queen’s Park.
“It takes the shine off being at the top of the league because it has affected the goal difference,” Moore commented. “Although if we can play to the potential that we did last week we will be comfortable.”
Arbroath beat East Stirlingshire 4-0 at home at their last clash but will be playing on the unfavoured Astroturf surface on Saturday.
“I usually complain about Astro!” Moore said. “But considering the heavy, soggy grounds we’ve been struggling on for the past few weeks it might actually suit us. We can get the ball down the pitch and move it a bit quicker.”
Carreiro heads back to Dundee leaving Maroons bereft of a goal threat from midfield, but Moore is hopeful it won’t be the last they see of him. “He’s been great and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in January.”