0 - 2
0 - 2
Highland League Cup (1st Round)
Paul Coutts (63)
Jamie Watt (?)
Andrea Coletto for Duncan Jones (64)
Shaun Kerr for Scott Graham (79)
Jamie Watt for Robbie Henderson (80)
Dean Lawrie for Kevin Webster (82)
Jerry O'Driscoll for Barrie Stephen (89)
Willie Barron (34)
Gary Black (59)
|Barrie Stephen (45)|
Two second half goals from league leaders Cove Rangers paved the way to the quarter finals of the Highland League Cup for the Aberdeen outfit at the expense of Nairn County, who are still searching for their first victory of 2008 and go out of the competition at the first round stage for the first time since Les Fridge's first season in charge.
The Station Park side looked much improved from the team who could only manage a draw with Lossiemouth last week and if it had not been for some top drawer goalkeeping from Cove shotstopper Lee Windrum and a lack of accuracy from the Nairn forwards it may have been a different story. But the visitors proved exactly why they are top of the Highland League table as they ground out the two-goal victory despite only having three shots on target during the match.
Fridge made three changes to the team from last week as Steven Edwards missed out through injury while Glenn Main and Shaun Kerr dropped to the bench. In came Martin MacDonald and Scott Graham while there was also a debut for recent signing Gary Black, who played in a holding midfield role.
County came racing out of the traps and almost broke the deadlock three minutes in. Wayne Mackintosh sent Gregg Main haring down to the right with a pinpoint through pass. The young Nairn midfielder got on the end of his engine room sidekick's ball and fired in a first time cross from the by-line. Scott Graham met the delivery at the front post with a neat flick but visiting goalkeeper Lee Windrum was equal to the effort as he reacted quickly to divert the ball past the post.
Seven minutes later the home side were back on the attack as Mackintosh again showed his distribution skills to pick out the unmarked Brian Macleod at the edge of the box. The full back never realised how much time he had on his hands though as he rushed his effort and fired straight at Windrum, who parried the ball wide.
Duncan Jones then whipped in an inviting free kick from the right on the quarter-hour mark which found Martin MacDonald at the back post but team mate Scott Graham got in the former Brora man's way as he attempted to find the net, meaning he could only head the ball harmlessly across goal.
It took the visitors 20 minutes to register their first shot at goal when Clark Bain launched a deep cross into the box from the right that picked out Martin Johnston in the box but the former Elgin City striker's stooping header was easily held by the untroubled John Campbell.
Cove came more and more into the game as it progressed but could not carve open the resolute Nairn defence who restricted their visitors to half chances and a succession of corners. And it was County who finished the half strongly and nearly broke the deadlock two minutes before the interval as Main's cross into the box was cleared but only to Willie Barron at the edge of the box. The Nairn skipper took one touch to set himself before shooting for goal but his effort dipped just over the bar.
Cove started the second half with renewed vigour and could have opened the scoring four minutes after the restart when Paul Coutts was afforded the space to drive towards goal up the middle of the park but he snatched at his 25-yard shot, sending it harmlessly past Campbell's right hand post.
The same player was a lot more deadly with his next shot at goal though as he gave Cove the lead in the 63rd minute. MacDonald was adjudged to have fouled Johnston some 20 yards from goal and Coutts stepped up to clip the resulting free kick over the Nairn wall and into the top left corner of Campbell's net.
Nairn's response came eight minutes later when some intricate passing build up almost resulted in an equalising goal. Main started the move off by releasing Mackintosh on a charging run up the centre of the park. He slipped in Graham on the right who then back heeled the ball into the path of the on-running Main but his low shot from the right edge of the box skipped across Windrum's goal and beyond the far post.
Main almost became Nairn's provider in the 74th minute when his in-swinging cross from the left found MacDonald at the front post but his header glanced past Windrum's upright by a matter of inches.
The home side then had a shout for a penalty waved away three minutes later when Barron went to ground inside the box just as he was about to race in on goal and then Windrum kept his side in front 10 minutes from the end. Gary Black whipped a right-footed free kick into the box from the left that found Chris Finnigan but the former Elgin City striker's glancing header was clawed away by the full-stretch Windrum at his far post.
And just as Nairn were lining up a late charge to try and salvage the tie after passing up a number of half chances, Cove sealed their progress to the last eight with a clinching second goal. Johnston got the better of MacDonald for the first time in the afternoon as he outmuscled the Nairn defender on the left before advancing towards goal. He stabbed a shot goalwards that beat Campbell but came back off the far post to unmarked substitute Jamie Watt who had the easy task of stroking the ball into the unguarded net from a couple of yards to leave Nairn shattered.
|John Campbell (GK)||28||26||-||75||-|
|Andrea Coletto (sub)||24||2||-||8||-|
|Shaun Kerr (sub)||21||24||11||24||11|
No league table has been added for this season.