5 - 1
Highland League Cup (Semi Final)
Craig Ross (28)
Neil Gauld (46)
Jamie McKinnon (56)
Danny Milne (72)
Jamie McKinnon (90)
Glenn Main (59)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Kenny Coull for Ryan Broadhurst (56)
Scott Michie for Craig Ross (56)
Ally Graham for Mark Smith (60)
Billy Horne for Andrea Coletto (82)
|Neil Gauld (46)||
Gregg Main (54)
Wayne Mackintosh (83)
Wayne Mackintosh (87)
Steven George (Referee)
A second half blitz by Inverurie Locos at a wet and blustery Harlaw Park ended Nairn County's Highland League Cup hopes the visitors suffered a third defeat in four seasons at the semi final stage of this competition.
Les Fridge's side trailed by just a single goal at the interval. But two quick-fire strikes by the hosts after the restart put Inverurie firmly in control and despite County pulling one back, the Locos stepped things up again to book their place in the final.
The visitors' hopes were dealt a crushing blow before the game when Lewis MacKinnon failed a fitness test. But the centre forward was included among the substitutes. That meant Gregg Main was restored to the starting line up in the only change from last week's team. He played in the middle of the park alongside Wayne Mackintosh with Glenn Main moved out right and Willie Barron filling MacKinnon's place up front.
Inverurie broke the deadlock on 28 minutes when Craig Ross struck to put the hosts ahead. This was how it stayed until shortly after half time when Neil Gauld doubled Locos' advantage just minutes before Jamie McKinnon made it three. Nairn did give themselves a glimmer of hope when Glenn Main netted to continue his fine scoring run. But that hope was extinguished when Danny Milne converted a softly-awarded penalty. Wayne Mackintosh then allowed his frustrations to get the better of him as he was sent off late on before McKinnon's second of the day rounded off a fine win for Dave Cormie's men.
Locos showed from the first whistle that they were hurting from their recent league defeat to Nairn, which all-but ended their title aspirations. They pinned the visitors back from as early as the second minute and Ryan Broadhurst was first to test Callum Donaldson. The English centre forward met a corner with a powerful header but County's goalkeeper dealt with it comfortably.
Mark Smith then came close for the hosts on eight minutes. He flicked on a long throw-in that has Donaldson diving to his right to save.
Locos were really piling on the pressure and should have broken the deadlock on 24 minutes. A great Danny Milne cross found Broadhurst but he put his header wide of the target with just Donaldson to beat.
It was not long before Inverurie were in front though and it was another aerial attack that caused the damage. Craig Ross met a Neil Gauld cross and sent his header into the left corner of the net to give his side a 28th-minute lead.
Nairn almost struck back immediately. Brian Macleod did well wide on the left to avoid two challenges and send a high ball into the danger area. It was met by Shaun Kerr but the Nairn marksman headed weakly wide.
The conditions at this stage were worsening by the minute with heavy rain and a strong wind sweeping straight down the pitch. And this was nearly a telling factor when a Gregg Main shot/cross was spilled by Locos goalkeeper Andy Reid. But the ball was scooped clear before Kerr could capitalise.
Nairn's best chance of the half came on 38 minutes and they should have equalised from it. Gregg Main's corner was met by the head of the totally-unmarked Martin MacDonald. Amazingly, he headed wide when it looked easier to score.
This was the jolt the Locos needed though and they reacted by playing some nice football on the ground. After several passes, Gauld looked like he had been fouled by Andrea Coletto in the box. The assistant certainly indicated it was a penalty but referee Steven George instead showed the Locos player the yellow card for diving and the Nairn support breathed a sigh of relief.
The Nairn supporters were still making their way back to the enclosure when their favourites were dealt a killer blow on 46 minutes. Neil Gauld controlled the ball and turned well on the edge of the box before sending a low shot past Donaldson to put the home side two goals to the good.
It was all Locos at this stage and the County defence were doing well to keep the score at two. This lasted only until the 56th minute though when Donaldson came for a high ball into the box. The goalkeeper could only flap at it though and Jamie McKinnon had the simple task of tapping the ball into the empty net to put the tie beyond the visitors.
But three minutes later and against the run of play, Nairn pulled one back. Glenn Main latched onto a through ball by Willie Barron and fired it low past the diving Reid to give County a glimmer of hope.
Nairn defender Stephen Skinner had his goalkeeper to thank for bailing him out on 70 minutes. His woefully short backpass was almost punished by Gauld but Donaldson did well to smother at the forward's feet.
Any thoughts County were harbouring of a dramatic comeback were gone on 72 minutes when Locos were awarded a very soft penalty. It was adjudged that Skinner had committed a foul following an Inverurie corner and Danny Milne stepped up the send the ball past the wrong-footed Donaldson.
Things were to get worse for the visitors when Wayne Mackintosh was shown a second yellow card for dissent and sent packing on 86 minutes.
It was all over bar the shouting by now and it looked like the home team could score whenever they wanted as they toyed with the Nairn team. Several times they should have netted by slack finishing kept the score line down.
But they did go nap in the last minute of the game when Jamie McKinnon sent a spectacular diving header high into the net to complete the scoring and ensure it will be Inverurie and not Nairn who will meet Fraserburgh in the final on May 9.
|Callum Donaldson (GK)||23||18||-||23||-|
|Billy Horne (sub)||19||22||1||22||1|
No league table has been added for this season.