3 - 5
Highland League Cup (1st Round)
Kevin Shortreed (27)
Mike Smith (69)
Michael Dunn (88)
Steven Sim (o.g.) (13)
Shaun Kerr (43)
Glenn Main (48)
Glenn Main (52)
Glenn Main (72)
|Grant Milne for Richard Forsyth (20)||
Graeme Stewart for Gregg Main (69)
Marc MacDonald for Lewis Mackinnon (76)
Murray Wilson for Andrea Coletto (84)
|Mark Taylor (18)||
Brian Macleod (20)
Stephen Skinner (68)
Wayne Mackintosh (72)
Graham Fraser (Referee)
A thrilling tie at MacKessack Park saw Nairn County advance to the quarter finals of the Highland League Cup at the expense of hosts Rothes. Les Fridge's men will now take on Deveronvale at Station Park on Saturday for a place in the last four.
County were always comfortable in this match and were never behind once the goals starting flying in despite Rothes managing to breach the Nairn back line three times. Hero of the night was Glenn Main who followed up his maiden goal for the club on Saturday with a treble in this game, although he was assisted greatly by some sloppy goalkeeping by Rothes veteran Steven Dunn.
Fridge made one change to the team that defeated the Speysiders in the league on Saturday. Andrea Coletto returned from suspension in place of the injured Willie Barron in the straight swap on the left of midfield. John Campbell and Scott Nicholl were both unavailable so Paul Macleod and youth team player Murray Wilson earned places on the bench with the latter making his debut late on.
Nairn opened the scoring when Rothes defender Steven Sim put through his own net. But it was all level when Kevin Shortreed poked home from close range.
just when it looked as if the two sides would go in at the interval all square, Shaun Kerr popped up to put County back in front.
After the restart, Main grabbed his first of the night to put daylight between the sides before doubling his tally with a quick-fire second.
The hosts grabbed another back through Mark Smith but any hopes of a comeback were extinguished when Main completed his hat-trick. But it was Rothes who rounded off the night's scoring when Michael Dunn grabbed a further consolation late on.
Rothes were keen to avenge Saturday's and were on the attack from the first whistle but the opening eight minutes were littered with fouls as both teams strived to make a mark on the game.
Both teams made good chances after 10 minutes of play. The first went to Rothes when a high ball caught out the Nairn back line to give Mike Smith the chance of a volley. But as he ballooned the ball high over the crossbar he would have been happy to see the linesman flag for offside.
Nairn immediately went up the other end and a ball into Lewis MacKinnon's feet gave him the chance to turn his man. He then got away a shot but it lacked power and Dunn gathered easily.
Coletto then did well to charge down a clearance and deliver a telling ball into the danger area which Mark Smith managed to steer behind for a corner.
It was tit-for-tat until the 13th minute when a Gregg Main corner was badly misjudged by goalkeeper Dunn. The ball hit the goalkeeper on the leg and rebounded off Steven Sim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time to deflect it over the line and hand County the opening goal.
The goal gave Nairn the impetus to take a hold of the tie. And great play by Wayne Mackintosh saw the home defence split open as he sent Shaun Kerr through on goal. But the veteran Dunn was quick off his line and the chance for misfiring Kerr was gone.
Just minutes later the visitors were unlucky not to go further ahead. A free kick into the box fell kindly to MacKinnon. But the surprised striker couldn't control the ball in time which allowed Mark Smith to make a timely intervention and save his side again.
The Rothes defence must have forgotten what Gregg Main had done to them with a free kick on Saturday. They didn't bother to assemble a wall when County were awarded a set piece 25 yards from goal. And with the home back line expecting a cross, the Nairn powerhouse fired a great effort at goal which dipped just over the bar with Dunn nowhere.
With 25 minutes gone, it looked like all the play was heading towards the Rothes goal. But as fate would have it, the hosts drew level on 27 minutes. A diagonal ball found Mike Smith free in the box. His attempted volley was awful but as he fluffed his shot, it found its way across goal where Kevin Shortreed was on hand to shoot past the wrong-footed Callum Donaldson.
Rothes were now the team with the bit between their teeth. And they were unlucky not to take the lead when Mark Dougal sent a 30-yard, curling shot goalwards that nearly embarrassed Donaldson who had to back-pedal and push the ball onto the face of the crossbar.
It was now turning into a cracking cup tie with the game roaring from end-to-end. Glenn Main was next up with a driving run and shot that nearly troubled Dunn. And then at the other end, the lanky Smith saw a diving header flash past the upright.
Rothes were finding a lot of space down the right flank and nearly made the most of it when Smith again controlled well. His shot was heading well wide when it hit Kris Duncan on the head and sent Donaldson the wrong way. Fortunately for Nairn though, the ball went just wide of the open goal.
But County went back in front two minutes before half time. MacKinnon's shot was spilled by Dunn and Shaun Kerr was on hand to rifle the ball high into the Rothes net. It was the striker's first goal in four games, somewhat of a drought by the County number nine's standards. But now that his famine is over, he'll be hoping for one at home on Saturday.
The second half started as the first had finished with both teams keen to attack. Mark Taylor had a grounder well held by Donaldson on 46 minutes but 60 seconds later, the home side were awarded a penalty. Grant Milne was fouled on the edge of the area and referee Graeme Fraser awarded a free kick. But after consulting with his assistant, he pointed to the penalty spot.
Duncan took on the responsibility after Sim's miss on Saturday. But his attempt bothered the Rothes supporters behind the goal more than it bothered Donaldson as he shot high and wide of the target.
Nairn made their hosts pay for that penalty miss in their next attack. Martin MacDonald popped up wide on the left and sent a great ball towards Glenn Main. The Nairn midfielder met it first time and smashed a stinging drive beyond the rooted Dunn to give his side a two-goal advantage.
It was all Nairn now and it was no surprise when they went further ahead on 52 minutes. Again it was that man Main who found the net as he latched onto a through ball. This time he side-footed his shot towards Dunn and the goalkeeper looked to have it covered. But he let it bounce in front of him and before he knew it, Glenn Main was behind the goal celebrating with the Nairn sponsors!
It was brotherly love for County on 63 minutes when Gregg Main found brother Glenn with a telling pass. The elder of the clan let the ball run across him before rifling it agonisingly past the post.
The tie looked to be in the bag for Nairn but Rothes were determined to make a fight of it and pulled a goal back on 69 minutes. Nairn failed to deal with a corner and the ball dropped to Mike Smith. The Speysiders' forward fired his shot through a forest of legs and into the Nairn net.
But any thoughts Rothes had of mounting a comeback were extinguished just three minutes later as County re-established their three-goal cushion. This time it was Brian Macleod who supplied the ammo and the on-fire Glenn Main who was the marksman as he curled the ball past the helpless Dunn to complete his hat-trick.
But Rothes never threw in the towel and got on the score sheet again two minutes from the end. Donaldson was at fault as he failed to clear a high ball in the box while under pressure from Michael Dunn. Both players fell to the ground but it was the Rothes defender who was first to react as he slid the ball into the net for the final goal in what was a pulsating cup tie.
|Callum Donaldson (GK)||23||14||-||19||-|
|Graeme Stewart (sub)||22||2||-||2||-|
|Murray Wilson (sub)||17||1||-||1||-|
|Marc MacDonald (sub)||22||3||-||25||-|
No league table has been added for this season.