3 - 1
North of Scotland Cup (Semi Final)
Gary Ross (8)
Gary Ross (12)
Duncan Jones (?)
David MacRae (87)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
|Colin Mitchell for Steve Macdonald (75)||
Peter Lynch for Johnny Seaton (52)
Gary Farquhar for Mark Smith (52)
Steve Sanderson for Brian Macleod (81)
Nairn County's hopes of reaching their first cup final since the late 1980's were killed off by a Clach side that showed why they are the reigning Highland League champions at Grant Street Park.
Nairn gaffer Les Fridge handed Mark Smith a starting berth in favour of Steve Sanderson and played him in a defensive midfield role in a bid to thwart the swift Clach attack while opting to go with Gareth Smith at centre-half to replace Colin Macleod, unavailable due to work commitments.
Clach broke the deadlock eight minutes into this tie when a cross in from the left by Tony Low was volleyed into the net via the underside of the crossbar by ex-Nairn striker Gary Ross from 15-yards out.
It was two, four minutes later when Duncan Jones' cross from the right was slid into the net by Gary Ross past the reach of Jim Calder for his second of the night.
Nairn were inches away from halving the deficit when Garry Ewing swung in a cross form the left that was met by a looping header from Iain Brooks that bounced just past the wrong side of the keeper's right-hand upright.
Then in the 22nd minute David MacRae collected a loose ball in midfield before unleashing a well struck shot that Clach keeper Ali Ridgers did well to keep a hold of.
A minute later Scott Kellacher won the ball in the air, flicking it onto the head of Iain Brooks but again the Nairn target man was only a matter of inches away from notching his side's first goal of the night.
But the home side stretched their lead when debutant Duncan Jones collected a slack Seaton pass before rifling a 25-yard effort straight into Jim Calder's top right hand corner.
Nairn again went close to grabbing a goal of their own when Kellacher did well to control a high ball into the area from the right before smashing a shot goalwards that Ridgers parried away.
The visitors threw caution to the wind early on in the second half in a bid to get back into this tie as they replaced Mark Smith and Johnny Seaton with Peter Lynch and Gary Farquhar.
But it was the homesters who had the first chance of note in the second half when Alex Bone fired a shot just over the bar from the edge of the box in the 65th minute.
County did manage to grab a consolation with three minutes left on the clock when David MacRae fired in a low shot from 20-yards that struck Nairn substitute Steve Sanderson en-route to goal sending Ridgers the wrong way.
But Clach almost restored their three-goal advantage when Low's cross from the left was met by a first time effort from Gary Ross who was denied a hat-trick thanks to the alertness of Calder.
County return to League business this Saturday at Inverurie where they will be looking to put this defeat behind them and continue their fine recent League form in what will no doubt be another tough match.
|Jim Calder (GK)||44||7||-||7||-|
|Peter Lynch (sub)||-||6||-||6||-|
|Steve Sanderson (sub)||23||8||3||57||23|
|Gary Farquhar (sub)||-||10||-||83||30|
No league table has been added for this season.