3 - 1
Jamie Watt (16)
Jamie Watt (29)
Karl Farrimond (88)
Iain Brooks (2)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Graham Cadger for Michael McKenzie (35)
Karl Farrimond for Stuart Gray (76)
Terry Kidd for Mark Chisholm (83)
Martin Sanderson for Willie Barron (76)
A much more spirited performance from Nairn County after last week's derby embarrassment against Forres is not enough to earn the side any points from Deveronvale's Princess Royal Park but Les Fridge's men can take comfort from the grit they showed against a side with title ambitions.
The gaffer made two changes from last week as both Martin Sanderson and Scott Nicholl were demoted to the bench as John MacAskill and Johnny Seaton returned to the starting line-up.
Fridge could not have hoped for a better response to the criticism his players received in the wake of last Saturday's match as they made a dream start to this game by breaking the deadlock after only two minutes. Brian Macleod played a long ball over the top of the home defence as Iain Brooks timed his run to perfection to latch onto the ball and coolly lift it over the despairing home shotstopper Ross Bremner and into the net as the Vale defenders appealed for offside.
It was inches away from being two for the visitors six minutes later as Gary Farquhar launched a speculative free-kick into the box from 25-yards out on the left that evaded everyone and needed to be clawed around the right hand post by Bremner, who saw the ball late.
Then in the 11th minute the home defence was again carved open by County and this time the visitors should have doubled their tally for the day. Willie Barron latched onto a Scott Kellacher ball out of defence before racing down the ring wing, cutting in towards goal and firing in a shot from a tight angle that was saved when David MacRae was standing waiting for a cut back with the goal gaping in front of him.
Deveronvale then started to come back into things and went close after 12 minutes as Kenny Gilbert's low drive from the edge of the box was saved by Calder before Stuart Gray headed a Steve Dolan cross from the left into the side-netting at the back post two minutes later.
County were eventually punished for their earlier missed chances when the ale levelled things in the 16th minute as Paul Urquhart skipped passed Brian Macleod down the right and whipped in a cross that Jamie Watt put beyond Calder with a first time volley from close range.
It was nearly two for the hosts only two minutes later as Urquhart himself went close after getting turned on the edge of the box and slamming in a shot that was beaten away by Calder.
County's next effort at goal came in the 23rd minute as Willie Barron teed up David MacRae but the ex-Caley Thistle midfielder pulled his low shot from 20-yards wide of the target.
But it was Deveronvale who got their noses in front for the first time in the match a minute before the half-hour mark. Kenny Gilbert sent a high ball into the box that Mike McKenzie met with a first time volley that Jim Calder failed to hold and it was Jamie Watt who reacted first to pounce on the loose ball smashing past the grounded Nairn goalkeeper.
Nairn created the first chance of the second forty-five as Iain Brooks controlled a Gary Farquhar free-kick into the box from the halfway line after 49 minutes but he saw his shot blocked by Bremner before Robert Brown just managed to scramble the rebound behind for a corner under pressure from David MacRae.
60 seconds later Nairn thought they had drawn level. Steven Edwards caught Bremner off his line as he sent an audacious free-kick from 10-yards inside his own half over the Vale keeper and into the net only for County's celebrations to be cut short as the referee chalked off the goal because the free-kick was of the indirect variety.
With then minutes remaining David Macrae made a great run to meet a long ball forward from defence before going round Bremner but the ex-Huntly shotstopper had forced the County midfielder wide enough so that he could recover to push the shot wide for a corner.
Scott Kellacher then gave the ball away cheaply in defence to Vale's Paul Urquhart and he played in first-half substitute Graham Cadger but the ex-Keith striker sent his shot wide.
The home side did round off the scoring by adding a third with two minutes to go though as ex-Ross County striker Karl Farimond neaded home a Dolan cross from the left.
A vastly improved performance from County but Vale's lethal finishing compared to Nairn's inability to convert the goalscoring chances they created early on was the main difference between the sides. A similar performance at Rothes on Wednesday night should be enough to earn the three points for County.
|Jim Calder (GK)||44||22||-||22||-|
|Martin Sanderson (sub)||22||3||-||3||-|
No league table has been added for this season.