2 - 2
North of Scotland Cup (Mini League)
Steven McGarry (58)
Craig Gunn (74)
Scott Kellacher (10)
Steve Sanderson (90)
Neal Sinclair for Johnny Seaton (65)
Steve Sanderson for Scott Kellacher (80)
Wayne Mackintosh for Gary Farquhar (83)
Nairn fight hard to earn a point in their opening North of Scotland Cup match away against Ross County at Victoria Park. They now have to defeat Lossiemouth at Station Park in a fortnights time by a better scoreline than Ross County do, provided the First Division club beat the Coasters when they clash at Grant Park in a week.
Les Fridge made four changes to the side bowed out of the Qualifying Cup at the first round stage on Saturday as Michael Rae and Neal Sinclair dropped down to the bench while Steven Edwards and Garry Ewing were unavailable. Jim Calder made his debut between the sticks while John MacAskill and Brian Macleod were drafted into the back four and Peter Lynch made his first start on the wing.
The home side attacked from the first whistle and nearly prized Nairn open in the third minute but Mark Smith made an effective intervention to block a Charlie Adam through ball. Nairn then conjoured up their first attack when Kellacher played in Brooks who saw his shot pushed wide by home shotstopper Colin Stewart. From the resulting corner, Peter Lynch played the ball towards David MacRae who sent a volley crashing towards goal then was only inches away from breaking the deadlock after eight minutes.
The visitors did get their noses in front though, two minutes later when Johnny Seaton played a throughball that Stewart could only clear as far as Scott Kellacher allowing the Nairn striker to fire home the opener from 15 yards. Steven McGarry then went close for Ross County but his shot was well defender by the impressive Lewis MacKinnon. A Don Cowie free kick on the 14th minute dipped just over the bar as the hosts tried to find a way back into the match.
A Peter Lynch corner in the 25th minutes was again met by a volley from David MacRae 20 yards from goal and again his effort sailed just over the crossbar. A well worked Nairn move in the 31st minute almost resulted in them doubling their advantage when a high ball into the box by Seaton was knocked down by Brooks to Kellacher whose thunderous drive was deflected wide. On-loan Rangers man Charlie Adam then made a surging run down the wing before delivering a pin-point accurate cross that McGarry could only head over the bar. Nairn's Mark Smith was then caught out by a Ross County ball into the box that was controlled by David Winters but he could only volley wide of the post after 40 minutes.
A quick Nairn free-kick sent Kellacher free a minute later but unfortunately he could only shoot past the post. A long-ball over the Nairn defence sent McGarry through one-on-one with MacAskill but the Nairn defender stood his ground well to deny the ex-St. Mirren striker. The last chance of the half fell to Nairn when Kellacher did well to control a MacRae ball before seeing his shot parried away by Colin Stewart.
Cowie again went clsoe for the hosts when he met a corner with a powerful header from 16 yards that only just sailed over the bar. The home side were well on top when McGarry unleashed a shot on the run in the 52nd minute that went straight at Calder. But Peter Lynch then sent Scott Kellacher through on goal but his shot was well stopped by Colin Stewart at his near post in the 55th minute.
McGarry then tried an acrobatical overhead a minute only to see his effort saved by Calder at full stretch.
The home side did get level though, two minutes before the hour mark when a McGarry free kick from 25-yards caught out Calder who seemed to think the ball was going wide before sailing into the net. Brooks then had a chance to re-claim Nairn's lead but he could only header straight at Stewart after 63 minutes.
A great run by Ross County sub Craig Gunn almost saw the home side take the lead but his inviting ball across the face of goal found no takers. Nairn were showing signs of tiredness when McGarry cracked a shot towards goal that was saved by Calder at his post after 69 minutes. The hosts took the lead for the first time in the evening though with 16 minutes left for play when Nairn could only clear the ball as far as Gunn who fired home past Calder.
Les Fridge then introduced Steve Sanderson to the proceedings after 80 minutes an he almost made an immediate impact two minutes later when the ball broke kindly to him in the box but he saw his shot come back off of the post. The Nairn striker again went clsoe 60 seconds later when he met a free-kick into the box on the volley only to see his effort flash just over the crossbar.
McGarry had a chance to kill things off an grab his second of the night after 84 minutes but he could only direct his close range header past the post. Nairn then snatched a point with virtually the last kick of the game when Steve Sanderson fired a shot towards goal that was blocked before coming back to him and after taking time to compose himself he smashed the ball high into Stewart's net to hand the visitors a share of the spoils sparking jubilous celebrations amongst the Nairn camp.
|Jim Calder (GK)||44||1||-||1||-|
|Wayne Mackintosh (sub)||16||1||-||4||-|
|Neal Sinclair (sub)||-||3||-||70||3|
|Steve Sanderson (sub)||23||4||1||53||21|
No league table has been added for this season.