2 - 2
John Brown (58)
Nicky Gordon (pen.) (61)
Martin MacDonald (59)
Martin MacDonald (87)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Neal Sinclair for Johnny Seaton (66)
Scott Nicholl for Steven Edwards (80)
Steve Sanderson for Iain Brooks (89)
Gary Clark (24)
Gavin Hendry (44)
Kevin Steele (89)
Brian Macleod (89)
A battling performance in this ferocious encounter ensured that County came away with a share of the spoils from their opening day clash with Cove Rangers at Allan Park. Debutant Martin MacDonald endeared himself to the travelling support as he notched two-goals to hit the ground running for his new club.
Les Fridge surprised the Nairn faithful with his team selection as he went with Jim Calder in goals ahead of summer capture John Campbell but the veteran custodian went on to justify the gaffer's decision. The backline consisted of Brian Macleod, Duncan Jones, Martin Sanderson and Steven Edwards while Iain Brooks, David MacRae, Andrew Allan and Tony Low occupied the midfield berths. Johnny Seaton partnered new boy MacDonald up front.
It was the home side who creating the first opening of the game as Clark Bain teed the ball up for Kevin Steele but the red-headed winger's effort flew just past Calder's left hand post after 11 minutes.
Tony Low went close for County two minutes later as his 22-yard free-kick took a deflection off of the Cove defensive wall that left home goalkeeper Ross Buchanan wrong footed but the former Inverness CT winger saw his effort land on the roof of the net.
Low was given his first opportunity to showcase his lightning pace on the quarter-hour mark as he surged down the left and laid the ball off to David MacRae with an intelligent cutback. Last season's top goalscorer saw his low shot blocked into the path of Iain Brooks who fired his follow up past Buchanan's left hand post.
Three minutes later, Cove skipper John Brown found a way past Steven Edwards down the left but was denied by Calder who made the save at his near post.
Martin MacDonald showed the first glimpses of what he can do as he received the ball into his feet from Johnny Seaton in the 36th minute before expertly turning his man and shooting low only to see Buchanan smother.
County were up in arms three minutes later as Martin Sanderson appeared to have been tripped in the box but the referee waved away the visitors' appeals.
Cove almost took advantage less than a minute later as Graham Cadger chested the ball down to Nicky Gordon but his low shot was well parried by Calder before the ex-Inverness CT goalkeeper saved low to his right from Brown five minutes later.
The first opening of the second half fell Nairn's way as MacDonald saw his low drive deflected just past the right hand post in the 48th minute.
From the resulting corner, David MacRae unleashed a thunderbolt of a volley that clipped the crossbar on its way over with Buchanan beaten all ends up.
Two minutes short of the hour mark, Cove opened the scoring as Brown stepped up to curl a 20-yard free-kick over the ball and into the net past the diving Calder.
But this lead was to last less than 60 seconds as MacDonald beat Buchanan in a race to a Duncan Jones throughball before stabbing it past the former Peterhead shotstopper and into the net.
The hosts were back in front in the 61st minute though as Iain Brooks was adjudged to have tripped goalscorer Brown in the box. Nicky Gordon stepped up to stroke the spot kick past Calder.
Low was a matter of inches from pulling Nairn level as he met an in-swinging Brian Macleod cross from the left with a bullet header at the back post that flashed across goal and just past the post in the 69th minute.
Less than a minute later County were on the offensive again as substitute Neal Sinclair put MacDonald through on goal but he miss hit his effort sending it past the post to the relief of the home side.
Brown cut in past Nairn's Edwards on the left after 78 minutes but Calder was equal to the Cove man's rasping, top corner bound drive as the County shotstopper made a diving save.
Ex-Deveronvale striker Graham Cadger smashed a volley goalwards with five minutes left for play only to see it beaten away by Calder who was again the hero for Nairn a minute later as he parried a Steele bicycle kick at his near post.
County grabbed a dramatic equaliser with three minutes left on the clock as Martin Macdonald was on hand to head home a deep Tony Low cross from the right at the back post as Nairn got the point that they richly deserved.
A positive start for Les Fridge's side and one that can be built upon within the coming weeks and months. Next week's home derby clash with Forres will be another difficult encounter but the players have the added incentive of gaining revenge for the 5-0 drubbing they were on the end of in the same fixture last season.
|Jim Calder (GK)||45||1||-||30||-|
|Scott Nicholl (sub)||21||1||-||17||-|
|Neal Sinclair (sub)||-||1||-||85||5|
|Steve Sanderson (sub)||24||1||-||62||24|
No league table has been added for this season.