4 - 1
North of Scotland Cup (Group Stage)
Hugh Robertson (27)
Dene Shields (pen.) (30)
Jason Crooks (38)
Alex Cooper (45)
Shaun Kerr (48)
Michael Finnis for Daniel Moore (48)
Scott Hadden for Sean Higgins (57)
Lloyd Murphy for Alex Cooper (71)
Glenn Main for Duncan Jones (46)
Scott Graham for Shaun Kerr (76)
Marc MacDonald for Wayne Mackintosh (80)
|Dene Shields (16)||
Brian Macleod (19)
Brian Macleod (30)
Nairn County's hopes of reaching a fourth successive North of Scotland Cup semi final and a third final in a row ended at Victoria Park as Second Division side Ross County progressed to the final four with a victory over their ten man visitors. It means that Dick Campbell's men top Group Four with four points while Nairn finish with three and Forres prop up the rest on one.
County boss Les Fridge made one change to his starting line up as Steven Edwards returned in place of Neil MacDonald, who is still suffering after the head knock he received on Saturday. Marc MacDonald and Scott Graham returned to the bench on favour of John Calder and Gregg Main.
Nairn made a bright start to the match and almost opened the scoring five minutes in. Duncan Jones swung in a deep corner from the right that found Stephen Skinner at the back post but his header was blocked on the goal-line by home goalkeeper Matthew Curtis.
A minute later Jones almost found the net himself when he picked up a loose ball in the final third and fired a stinging effort goalwards that was parried by Curtis and held by the goalkeeper at the second attempt.
The home side passed up a gilt-edged chance to score themselves in the eighth minute when Craig Gunn's cross from the right landed at the feet of Dene Shields at the back post but he sent his side-footed volley over the crossbar when well placed.
Sean Higgins then went close for the visitors after playing a neat one-two with Jason Crooks and firing a low drive goalwards from 22 yards that was held by John Campbell.
The woodwork kept the Nairn goal in tact in the 18th minute when Gunn's cross from the right was met by Shields at the back post but his head struck Campbell's post before being cleared to safety.
Brian Macleod then picked up Nairn's first booking of the match when he kicked the ball away in the 18th minute then a minute later he almost set up the opening goal. His free-kick into the box from the halfway line found Shaun Kerr but County's prolific striker sent his head flick past the post.
The hosts broke the deadlock in sensational fashion after 27 minutes. Willie Barron conceded a dangerous free kick on the edge of the Nairn box and Higgins could only drill his effort into the County wall. The loose ball broke to Hugh Robertson and the former Don rifled a right-footed shot from 25 yards that flew into Campbell's top left hand corner leaving the goalkeeper rooted.
The home side doubled their lead on the half hour mark as Nairn's hopes of progressing were dealt a hammer blow. Brian Macleod got caught the wrong side of Alex Cooper when Gunn swept in a cross from the left. The Nairn full back tugged the shirt of the Ross County youngster sending him sprawling and was shown a second yellow card by referee Wright. Shields stepped up to slot home the resulting penalty.
Two further goals before the break added to ten-man Nairn's woes. Daniel Moore skipped past a poor Willie Barron challenge in the 38th minute and sent in a deep cross from the right that was perfect for the unmarked Crooks to tap in at the back post. Then on the stroke of half time, a short corner on the right found Cooper on the edge of the box and he curled home a left-footed shot.
Nairn's high work rate and effort restricted their hosts when a deluge looked on the cards and the Highland League side even managed to pull one back three minutes after the restart. Shaun Kerr chased a lost cause into the corner and his persistence paid off when he netted a great solo effort. With no options in the box, he opted to go it alone and cut inside before dancing past four defenders and coolly slotting past Curtis from 10 yards.
The visitors were inches away from pulling another goal back a minute short of the hour mark. A Barron corner was headed cleared by the hosts' Sean Webb but Wayne Mackintosh launched it high and back into the box. Martin MacDonald raced onto the ball and - with the home defence claiming offside - he curled a right-footed effort from the left across goal that Curtis got the slightest of touches to send past the far post.
The home side were dominating the possession but were unable to break down Nairn's resistance but came close to adding a fifth goal in the 70th minute when Graham Girvan's powerful effort from 22 yards was held by Campbell. 15 minutes later Girvan went close again with a low drive from 20 yards that drifted across goal and past the post
Nairn went up the park and almost grabbed a second goal when Darren Jarvie latched onto Glenn Main's great through ball and his inviting cross had to be turned over the crossbar by Webb with Scott Graham lurking.
Match report written by Graeme Macleod
|John Campbell (GK)||27||4||-||53||-|
|Glenn Main (sub)||22||3||-||13||-|
|Marc MacDonald (sub)||20||1||-||15||-|
|Scott Graham (sub)||20||1||-||1||-|
No league table has been added for this season.