0 - 3
Shaun Kerr (3)
Duncan Jones (25)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Ross Anderson for Lee MacGregor (46)
Alan Redford for Neil Murray (46)
Scott Garrett for Gary McGowan (70)
Glenn Main for Willie Barron (84)
|Michael Morrison (50)||None.|
A convincing and assured Nairn County performance at Huntly led to Les Fridge's side ending their league season on a high as they rounded off the campaign with a three-goal victory.
The win means that County climb above local rivals Clachnacuddin in the final league standings and finish the season only three points less off that last season - despite the team undergoing a summer face lift and suffering a long, momentum-arresting winter lay off.
Based on recent performances though, Les Fridge's only disappointment will be that the season has to come to an end as his troops look to be firmly back on top form. Last week's display in the ten-man win over Inverurie was extremely commendable but at Christie Park the team found an even higher level this week as they knocked the ball about with a confidence that defied their mid-table position and literally ran rings around their hosts for long periods.
The visitors raced into an early lead as top goalscorer Shaun Kerr pounced to net from close range after Gregg Main had been denied by the woodwork. And County were two up before the break when Duncan Jones rattled home a free kick from 22 yards. The lead was no more than Nairn deserved and they went on to add a third only a matter of minutes after the restart when Kerr struck again after a blunder by Huntly goalkeeper Stewart Gray.
Fridge was without the services of the suspended Darren Jarvie - sent off in last week's win - and Martin Sanderson, who picked up a knock in that match and has since left the club. Martin MacDonald returned from injury to take his place at the heart of the defence while Duncan Jones returned to take over in midfield meaning that Brian Macleod dropped into the defence.
It took County only three minutes to establish the lead as they left the home side in their wake. Willie Barron's great throughball sent Scott Graham racing down the wing. Upon hitting the by-line, the former Fort William forward lifted his head and picked out the front post run of Gregg Main. The Nairn midfielder saw his shot rattle off the woodwork but the ball came back out to the waiting Shaun Kerr who buried the rebound from a few yards.
Huntly first threatened after six minutes when Craig Dorrat struck a 25-yard free kick towards goal but his effort curled well over John Campbell's crossbar as County began to look increasingly comfortable at the back.
The visitors were back on the front foot on the quarter-hour mark and they should have doubled their advantage after a crisp attacking move. Jones' long ball into the left channel was latched onto by Graham, who left Huntly right back Neil Murray for dead before squaring the ball across the box to Kerr. The former Clach man had time to take a touch and pick his spot but he opted to shoot first time and could only guide his effort from 15 yards into the welcoming arms of a relieved Stewart Gray.
A rare defensive error from the visitors let the home side in on goal two minutes later and they almost punished County. Martin MacDonald attempted to head a long ball back to Campbell but his effort was short and read by Huntly forward Gary McGowan who nipped in to latch onto the pass back but his first time volley looped over the crossbar.
A Main corner was the source of Nairn's next attack when his delivery from the right was only partially cleared to Jones but his 22-yard shot flashed over the crossbar in the 24th minute.
But the former Aberdeen youth player was not to be denied and it proved only to be a range finder for the set piece specialist. After netting from a similar position last week, there was only going to be one taker when Graham was fouled within shooting range, despite the efforts of Main to persuade his team mate otherwise. And when Jones stepped up, it was the same result as last week as he lashed the ball over the defensive wall and into Gray's top right hand corner.
County could have added a third goal ten minutes before half time when Barron raced down the left and cut the ball back to Kerr but he drilled his shot beyond the near post.
It took until the 36th minute for the home side to register their first attempt on target but Russell Guild's curling left foot shot from 20 yards was parried wide by Campbell.
The alert Gray kept Huntly in it at the other end when Barron surged into the box and slipped Graham in on goal but the home shotstopper raced from his line to bravely dive at the feet of the on-form Nairn forward.
County made an equally impressive start after the restart as they had the beginning of the game as they netted a third goal to all but kill off the game and secure the three points. Jones' tremendous crossfield pass picked out Graham in acres of space on the left. He cut inside substitute defender Ross Anderson and onto his right foot before firing a rather tame shot straight at goal. But Gray dropped the ball after appearing to have it under control and Kerr reacted first to poke the ball through the goalkeeper's legs to score his 17th goal of the season.
With a three-goal lead, County were happy to sit back and soak up everything the home side could throw at them as they looked for a way back into the game. And they almost clawed a goal back after 67 minutes when Guild rounded John Campbell but he knocked the ball wide and his shot from a tight angle was cleared by Gregg Main, who had raced back on to the goal line.
Nairn almost grabbed a fourth goal five minutes later when Graham surged down the left and played Barron in on goal but his angled shot was held by Gray this time, with Kerr again waiting to net from any slip ups.
The home side created one final chance to grab what would only have been a consolation when Colin Robertson burst down the left and hit a low shot from a tight angle across goal and beyond the far post with several team mates in the middle looking for a cut back.
|John Campbell (GK)||28||34||-||83||-|
|Glenn Main (sub)||22||20||-||30||-|
No league table has been added for this season.