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|Neil Whyte (?)||
Willie Barron (47)
Charlie Brown for Charlie Rowley (62)
Colin McLean for Mark Holmes (73)
Gary Farquhar for David MacRae (81)
Iain Brooks (90)
After a match played in cold and blustery conditions at Mosset Park, Nairn County earned their fourth League draw in as many seasons on the patch of their nearest geographical rivals.
Les Fridge didn't have his problems to seek going into this encounter as his team selection was again heavily influenced by the number of injuries and call offs he has had to put up with and things don't look any brighter as going into the side's next match he will probably be without a further two players for the visit of Fort William in a fortnight as a consequence of this game.
After a poor opening to the proceedings, Nairn notched the first shot on target of the day after 20 minutes of play when David MacRae burst past his marker before getting to the ball just ahead of Forres shotstopper Ally MacKenzie and stabbing a shot under the keeper to see it trickle just past the post.
Then in 32 minutes, a clearance from left-back Garry Ewing was latched onto by Willie Barron before the Nairn forward cut inside his marker and unleashed a right-footed strike that MacKenzie did well to hold.
County again nearly breached the host's goal a minute later when a curling free-kick by MacRae from 22-yards was tipped just over the crossbar by MacKenzie.
Forres eventually got themselves involved in the proceedings with a couple of half chances of their own towards the end of the opening 45. Firstly, Neil Whyte fired over the bar from 20-yards in the 40th minute before ex-Nairn man Mark Holmes saw his shot go well wide from a similar distance five minutes later.
County sprung into life two minutes after the restart as they broke the deadlock. A brilliantly weighted pass from Iain Brooks put Barron through on goal and Nairn man made no mistake as he took one touch before remaining composed to slot a left-footed effort under the outrushing MacKenzie and into the net from 15-yards.
The home side were desperately trying to draw level and came close after 59 minutes of play as a corner from the right was met by the head of the towering Ryan Green at the front post but Jim Calder was alert enough to expertly tip the ex-Nairn centre forward's header round the post.
From the resulting corner, Green again went close as he was given the space to control the ball and get turned in the box but his low shot was held by Calder.
Then, in the 71st minute, Whyte again missed the target as he met a cross from the left with a back post header only to see it drift past Calder's left-hand upright.
A minute later and again the Mechanics were on the attack as Green poked a high ball goalwards only to be denied by brave goalkeeping from Jim Calder.
In the 73rd a left-footed shot by Graeme Grant from 25-yards flashed across the face of goal and just wide of the post to the relief of the travelling support.
The pressure continued to grow on the Nairn goal and 15 minutes from time a low ball across the six-yard line from the left by Graeme Grant found no takers as Nairn clung on to their slender advantage.
But this lead was eventually surrendered as Calder failed to deal with a high cross in from the left allowing Neil Whyte to cash in on the loose ball to slam home the equaliser despite the efforts of Brian Macleod on the Nairn goal-line.
This seemed to give the hosts the lift they'd been looking for all game as they piled forward in search of a winner.
Moments after drawing his side level, Forres skipper Whyte lashed a shot goalwards from a tight angle only to see Calder palm the ball wide of the post.
From the corner kick that followed, Green had time and space to turn and hit but he leaned back when unleashing his strike resulting in the ball going over the crossbar.
In spite of the resurgence of the home side, it was Nairn who could have snatched all three points when, in the 79th minute, Iain Brooks was put clean through on goal but his touch let him down allowing MacKenzie to make a simple save.
Nairn's injury list was further lengthened as influential midfielder David MacRae had to be stretchered off after 81 minutes after receiving a heavy tackle. With the Caley Thistle player's loan contract at Station Park due to expire at the end of next month, he may have played his last game for the club if any serious damage has been done.
The visitors again conjured up a goalscoring opportunity when substitute Gary Farquhar sent in a wicked delivery from a free-kick that was met by a header from goalscorer Willie Barron who maybe didn't realise the time and space he had to take the ball down in.
County were then reduced to ten-men as Iain Brooks was dismissed in the last minute for challenging a high-ball, a refereeing decision that baffled the visiting fans. This was Brooks' third sending off of his career, the second this season, all three of which the Nairn target man would be quite right to feel hard done by to receive.
A point is always welcome from an away match with Forres but on the balance of play Nairn would have every right to feel that they should have grabbed all three. The side now have a week off before preparing for the visit of Fort William to Station Park in a fortnight, a game in which they will be looking to extract a measure of revenge on the Lochaber side after they dumped County on the opening day of the season.
|Jim Calder (GK)||44||14||-||14||-|
|Gary Farquhar (sub)||-||14||1||87||31|
No league table has been added for this season.