2 - 1
2 - 1
Iain Brooks (50)
David MacRae (71)
|Kenny Coull (8)|
John MacAskill for Neal Sinclair (76)
Richie Davidson for Steven Park (29)
Richie Singer for Craig Ross (61)
Andy Low for Neil McLean (79)
Nairn County upset the odds at Station Park to blow the title race wide open as they defeated one of the favourites in the form of Inverurie Locos.
County gaffer Les Fridge was yet again forced to shuffle his pack as Scott Kellacher was ruled out due to a bout of flu while Colin Macleod dropped down to the bench in the two changes to the side that romped to a 5-0 victory over Brora a fortnight ago. Their places in the starting XI were taken by Neal Sinclair, handed his first start since October and debutant Martin Sanderson.
The visitors started the brighter of the two sides and the travelling support though that their team had taken the lead after only three minutes when the Nairn defence failed to deal with a corner from the right before the ball broke to Kenny Coull but he fired his shot on the turn just wide of Calder's left hand post.
The Locos did get their noses in front though five minutes later as the ball broke to Tommy Wilson in the middle of the park and he threaded it a pass for Kenny Coull to rush through on-goal and the ex-Cove Rangers striker kept his composure to despatch the ball past Jim Calder and into the net.
Nairn then saw their first sight of goal after 13 minutes as the ball broke to Gary Farquhar some 20-yards from goal and he fired in a low shot that was deflected wide of the target.
Three minutes later and a Scott Nicholl cross from the right was knocked down to Iain Brooks by Neal Sinclair but the County forward lashed his shot high over the crossbar.
Then in the 25th minute some excellent build-up play resulted in Nairn creating another goalscoring chance. A deep cross in from the right by Willie Barron was headed back across goal to Iain Brooks by Neal Sinclair. Brooks then laid the ball off for the on-running Gary Farquhar but the veteran midfielder sent his shot high and wide of the post.
Whatever County gaffer Les Fridge said to his side at half-time it certainly paid off as the hosts came out for the second half all guns blazing and looking like a completely different team from the first 45. And they were back on level terms five minutes after the restart when Gary Farquhar flighted a perfect curling free-kick from the right into the box and onto the head of Iain Brooks who powered his effort past the helpless Marc Coull and into the net.
It was nearly two for the home side in the 53rd minute when Lewis MacKinnon played a perfect ball over the top for Willie Barron to latch onto and advance towards goal down the left. With a lack of support in the middle, he opted to cut inside and drive past two defenders before laying the ball off to Farquhar. His shot was then blocked but the loose ball broke the Iain Brooks and with the goal at his mercy, the County target man agonisingly sent his shot inches past the post.
The ball then broke in the air some 20-yards from goal in the 58th minute and when it fell to Willie Barron perfectly for a strike there was no doubt that he would try his luck but the Nairn forward's effort sailed just over the crossbar.
The Locos responded to this barrage of Nairn pressure by almost re-establishing their advantage when Ross McWilliam sent in a cross from the right that was met by a back post header from Neil McLean but the ex-Elgin City winger sent his effort into the side-netting to the relief of the home fans.
But it was Nairn who grabbed the crucial third goal 19 minutes from time. On-loan defender Lewis MacKinnon delightfully dinked the ball over the visiting defence to County midfielder David MacRae who'd timed his run to perfection to latch onto the ball and chip it over the advancing Marc Coull from 10-yards to the delight of the County faithful.
Three minutes later County were a whisker away from putting daylight between the two sides as David MacRae unleashed a thuderbolt of a volley from almost 30-yards that whistled past the right hand post of the flat-footed Locos keeper Marc Coull.
Inverurie began to throw caution to the wind as the match progressed in order to snatch at least a point and went close after 88 minutes when substitute Andy Low met a corner from the left with a free header that the alert Calder managed to hold. And right at the death it looked as if Inverurie would level the match when goalscorer Coull was sent through on-goal but somehow Nairn's Brian Macleod managed to race back and make a crucial intervention as Nairn clung on for the deserved three points.
A great win for Nairn as they prove yet again that they can be more than a match for any side in the Highland League. Another tricky encounter awaits the side next week as they travel to face Huntly at Christie Park but Les Fridge's men should be confident of putting another spanner in the works of the title race.
|Jim Calder (GK)||44||20||-||20||-|
|John MacAskill (sub)||-||19||-||19||-|
No league table has been added for this season.