2 - 0
Scottish Cup (1st Round)
Robbie Ross (25)
Michael Bruce (53)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Ross McNamara for Paul Taylor (33)
Jordan Caddow for Steven Clee (59)
Danny Munro for Robbie Ross (78)
Wayne Mackintosh for Billy Horne (54)
Glenn Main for Duncan Jones (74)
|Robbie Ross (53)||
Gregg Main (50)
Neil MacDonald (52)
Gary Black (53)
Scott Graham (87)
|Kevin Morrison (32)||
Neil MacDonald (85)
Ross Hamill (Referee)
The Scottish Cup dream died for another year as Nairn County were knocked out of the first round of the competition by East of Scotland Premier League side Edinburgh City at the crumbling Meadowbank Stadium.
Les Fridge's men gave as good as they got throughout the game but a lack of killer instinct up front and an inability to win defensive aerial duals cost the visitors badly as the 10-man hosts notched two almost identical goals either side of half time.
The manager was without the services of Shaun Kerr and Martin MacDonald for the trip south and both were sorely missed. It meant two changes in personnel to the side which started last weekend's cup final win over Inverness CT. Neil MacDonald came in at right back, meaning Gary Black moved into the centre while Chris Finnigan partnered Scott Graham in attack. Captain Willie Barron also missed out because of work commitments which meant there were places on the bench for Callum Riddell and Glenn Main.
The hosts broke the deadlock after 25 minutes when Paul Taylor's free kick was headed home by Robbie Ross, who had out-jumped the Nairn defence. County had a golden opportunity to level seven minutes later though when Scott Graham was fouled in the penalty area. Edinburgh's Kevin Morrison was sent off for the last man tackle but Brian Macleod's spot kick was saved by home goalkeeper Duncan Monteith. The sucker punch came eight minutes after the restart as the hosts doubled their lead when Michael Bruce headed home to give Edinburgh a two-goal cushion. Despite Nairn's efforts, they couldn't break down the home rear-guard and their misery was compounded late on when Neil MacDonald was sent off a second bookable offence.
The game started at a frantic pace and Nairn had a decent shout for a penalty with only two minutes on the clock when Graham cut in from the left and was felled in the box but County's appeals were waved away by referee Ross Hammil.
Nairn almost broke the deadlock in the fourth minute when Black intercepted an Edinburgh pass out of defence and took one touch to set himself before firing a 22-yard shot towards goal. But his effort flashed past the right hand post by a matter of inches.
City went up the park almost immediately and Steven Clee collected a pass in from the right but he fired his low shot across goal and beyond the far post.
The home side showed their presence at set pieces after 16 minutes when Kevin Morrison's free kick into the box from wide on the left was headed over by the stretching Steven Clee. It was a warning to the visitors and one which they did not acknowledge.
John Campbell's quick thinking gave Graham a great chance to open the scoring after 18 minutes. The goalkeeper - sporting a new, all blue kit - launched the ball upfield and the former Fort William forward latched on to the punt before streaking away from the home defence. He was now in on goal and only had to beat the goalkeeper but his attempted lob over Monteith from the edge of the box was blocked by the advancing shot stopper.
County had Neil MacDonald to thank for keeping them level a minute later when he threw himself in the way of two shots from just inside the box to prevent a certain goal.
The aerial presence of Edinburgh's front two was causing Nairn all sorts of problems and they almost went in front from another high ball into the box. This time it was Clee who won it in the air and managed to knock the ball down to Ross but the Scotland semi-pro international fired over from close range.
The home side did notch the first goal 25 minutes in though and it came from a predictable source. It was Paul Taylor who this time provided the ammunition as he launched a high free kick into the danger area from the right. Robbie Ross squeezed between Stephen Skinner and William Horne and rose highest to bullet a header across Campbell and into the far corner of the net.
County almost drew level two minutes later when Duncan Jones' corner from the right was missed by Monteith. Skinner headed the ball back into the danger area at the far post but Graham's attempt to scramble the ball home from a couple of yards was blocked by Morrison the line.
MacDonald went on a foraying run down the right for Nairn on the half-hour and cut inside onto his left foot but his low shot from 15 yards went past the near post.
The turning point in the game came two minutes later when a long ball forward was controlled by Graham who raced into the penalty area and was pushed to the deck by Morrison. Referee Hammil pointed to the spot and sent the Edinburgh defender off for the last man challenge. But after a lengthy delay, Brian Macleod's long spot kick was parried by Monteith.
Nairn continued to push forward despite the set back and the last chance of the half came a minute before the interval. Black clipped the ball into the area but Graham's header drifted over the bar.
The next goal of the game was always going to be crucial and when it arrived in the 53rd minute, it went the way of the hosts. In what was a mirror image of the opener, substitute Ross McNamara fired a free kick into the box from just in the Nairn half on the left. Michael Bruce had the space to rise in the box and head the ball across Campbell and into the net to put daylight between the two sides.
It was a bitter blow for the visitors but they almost hit back a minute later. Jones curled a 22-yard free kick towards goal but his effort brushed the side netting on its way past the post.
Nairn were pushing forward in numbers by this stage but this left spaces at the back which Edinburgh nearly exploited to full effect in the 62nd minute. Jordan Hall's pass picked out the unmarked Johnnie Niven on the left edge of the box but he was denied by the out-rushing Campbell.
Jones' short corner found MacDonald unmarked a minute later but his low effort was gathered at the second attempt by Monteith at his near post. Edinburgh went straight up the park and Robbie Ross cut in from the left but he blasted his shot across goal and wide of goal.
A slack Gregg Main pass gifted the hosts the chance to add a third when he inadvertently played Ross in on goal but with Neil MacDonald breathing down his neck, the Edinburgh front man saw his low shot blocked by Campbell.
Stephen Skinner was next to have a go for County when he cut in from the left in the 74th minute but his right-footed shot flew into the side netting.
A minute later, Black picked out Chris Finnigan in the box with a cross from the left. The former Elgin City man took the ball down but snatched at his six-yard shot sending it straight at Monteith who made a good reaction save.
Time was running out for the visitors as the home side were happy to see out the final stages of the game. Gregg Main came close to giving County a lifeline when he was picked out by Graham's cut back but the midfielder sent his 25-yard shot dipping over the crossbar.
Things went from bad to worse for Nairn when they too were reduced to 10-men as Neil MacDonald was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red for foul and abusive language towards the referee.
County created one final chance to score what would only have been a consolation two minutes into injury time when Finnigan played Gregg Main through on goal but his low shot went under the goalkeeper and past the far post.
|John Campbell (GK)||28||11||-||94||-|
|Glenn Main (sub)||23||1||-||31||-|
|Wayne Mackintosh (sub)||20||7||1||89||5|
No league table has been added for this season.