2 - 0
2 - 0
Highland League Cup (2nd Round)
Lewis Mackinnon (52)
Wayne Mackintosh (81)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Willie Barron for Gregg Main (46)
Billy Horne for Brian Macleod (84)
Gregg Main (22)
Martin MacDonald (26)
Morag Pirie (Referee)
There was no repeat of Nairn County's late collapse one month ago when they hosted Deveronvale at Station Park for the second time in four weeks. On the first occasion, Nairn had led 2-0 but two goals in the last five minutes saw Vale snatch a point. This time out though, County held on after establishing a lead to take their place in the last four of the Highland League Cup. Les Fridge's men will now take on Inverurie Locos at Harlaw Park on Saturday April 4 for a place in the final.
Despite having a raft of injury concerns, Fridge was able to stick with the same team that defeated Rothes on Wednesday night. That meant fit-again captain Willie Barron had to settle for a place on the bench alongside goalkeeper John Campbell, who also returned to the squad.
After a goalless first half in which County created little of note, the home side showed their visitors the way to goal. Lewis MacKinnon opened the scoring seven minutes after the restart with his seventh goal of the season. County then doubled their lead and seemingly made the tie save nine minutes from time when Wayne Mackintosh tucked home a Shaun Kerr cutback. And despite memories of the last meeting between these two sides coming flooding back, Nairn held their nerve to book a semi final place.
Deveronvale controlled the first half and came close to scoring through Kenny Gilbert. The former Ross County and Elgin City full back sent a sweetly-struck 20-yard volley goalwards but he was denied by Nairn goalkeeper Callum Donaldson.
Former County striker Robbie Duncanson then almost grabbed the opener. But the striker headed over after connecting with Sam Mackay's cross from the right.
Mackay himself was next to go close for the visitors. He tried his luck with a volley from 25 yards that was well struck by the ex-Brora Rangers midfielder. His effort flew just over the bar though.
County struggled to create anything of note going forward and picked up two quick-fire yellow cards. Gregg Main and Martin MacDonald were booked with three minutes of one another, both for late challenges.
It was MacDonald who had Nairn's only shot on goal of the half. The home crowd had to wait until the 41st minute to see it. But when the shot arrived, it was hardly worth waiting for as MacDonald's effort was closer to the corner flag than it was the goal.
County introduced Barron to the action at half time in place of Gregg Main who struggled through the last two games with a knock and had already picked up a booking in this one.
Then the hosts exploded into life as they opened the scoring on 52 minutes. Lewis MacKinnon found himself in a great position and was able to stab the ball beyond the helpless Jamie Blanchard in the Vale goal. It was a classy goal but the celebration that followed was anything but as the Nairn number eight pulled down his shorts to reveal a pair of Superman pants!
There was further injury concern for Fridge minutes after the goal when Kerr went down with a head injury after an aerial tussle with Blanchard. Both players were able to continue although the Nairn striker was sporting a swollen eye for the rest of the game.
The visitors upped the tempo in an attempt to bring themselves level. They created several chances and came close to equalising through Mackay's effort from the edge of the area. But Donaldson never really looked in any trouble as he made a routine save.
Then Graeme Watt raced through on the Nairn shot stopper but the Vale winger was denied by a great recovering tackle by County defender Stephen Skinner.
Donaldson kept his side in front three minutes after the hour-mark. Mark Cowie bent an 18-yard shot towards the top corner but the County keeper proved his worth by tipping the ball over the crossbar.
And with just nine minutes left for play, Nairn grabbed a decisive second goal. Kerr, so often the executioner, was the provider on this occasion as he sprung the offside trap to race away down the left. County's top scorer dragged the ball inside before cutting it back for the perfectly-positioned Wayne Mackintosh to stroke home his second goal of the season from 12 yards.
The visitors were now frantically searching for a way back into the game. And their desperation showed as Scott Anderson and Stuart Glennie's men were rarely able to trouble Donaldson in the time that remained. Their best chance came from Mackay's 22-yard free kick. But the former Scotland schoolboy international was denied a consolation goal by the impressive Donaldson. The Nairn 'keeper dived to his right to prevent the ball from finding the bottom corner as County progessed to the semi finals with their second Highland League Cup win this week.
|Callum Donaldson (GK)||23||15||-||20||-|
|Billy Horne (sub)||19||21||1||21||1|
|Willie Barron (sub)||28||20||2||203||49|
No league table has been added for this season.