1 - 2
|Shane Sutherland (58)||
Tony Low (43)
Martin Sanderson (73)
|Sam Mackay for Niall Calder (74)||
Steve Sanderson for David MacRae (38)
Andrew Allan for Johnny Seaton (71)
|Muir Morton (62)||
John MacAskill (71)
Andrew Allan (90)
Nairn County got the New Year off to a winning start as they ground out a 2-1 success at Brora's Dudgeon Park in one of their less impressive displays of late.
Les Fridge had the luxury of being able to name exactly the same sixteen players who served him so well by ending last year on a high with a 4-1 success at home to Clach seven days ago.
As a poor first half - where things just weren't coming off for either team - drew to close, Nairn's Tony Low lit up proceedings when he volleyed his side in front two minutes before the interval. The hosts' Shane Sutherland levelled things after the restart though with an equally impressive finish but it was Martin Sanderson who was the unlikely hero for County as he squeezed the ball home to score what would turn out to be the winning goal.
The home side made the brighter start of the two teams and were a matter of inches away from breaking the deadlock nine minutes in. The lively Shane Sutherland dispossessed Martin Sanderson down in the left corner and whipped in a cross-cum-shot that flashed across Jim Calder's goal and just wide of the far post.
This served as a wake up call for the visitors and they went close themselves to going in front five minutes later. David MacRae beat Brora keeper Michael Gray to an Iain Brooks throughball and clipped it over the advancing shotstopper but his effort bounced on top of the crossbar on its way over the top.
County again went close in the 14th minute when Brooks beat Gray in the air. The loose ball broke to Willie Barron and with the goalkeeper grounded he powered a volley from 20-yards over the crossbar.
Calder then had to be in top form to prevent the hosts from going in front after 21 minutes. Former Nairn man Muir Morton collected a loose ball at the edge of the box and unleashed a stinging shot that was kept out by a flying save from the former Inverness CT shotstopper.
Barron again went close to giving County the lead as he headed a Brian Macleod cross from the right goalwards in the 27th minute but his effort from 10-yards at the front post was held by Gray.
County were dealt a blow when top scorer David MacRae limped off injured and saw his place taken by Steven Sanderson.
Nairn eventually got their noses in front after 43 minutes just when it was beginning to look as if it would be a frustrating afternoon for Les Fridge's troops in front of goal. Barron broke free down the right but his cross was headed clear from the danger area but only as far as the awaiting Tony Low who smashed a first time volley from 20-yards into the bottom left hand corner leaving Gray helpless.
County were the width of the crossbar away from doubling their lead less than a minute into the second half. Brooks' cross from the right picked out the unmarked Steven Sanderson but his shot from 15-yards skimmed the bar on its way over.
Sutherland then went close to hauling his side level in the 51st minute but his shot from 20-yards was held by Calder.
Tony Low almost doubled his tally for the day when he skipped past two defenders and fired in a low shot from 20-yards but his effort was easily held by Gray two minutes later.
Sutherland then restored parity in spectacular fashion two minutes short of the hour mark. He controlled a long ball forward and cut in from the left before unleashing a powerful right-footed drive from the edge of the box that went flying into the top right hand corner of the net.
After squandering several half chances, County finally re-established their lead in the 73rd minute. Brooks nodded down a Barron cross from the right into the stride of Martin Sanderson who kept his composure to place a delicate volley past Gray and into the net.
Brooks again caused all sorts of problems in the air for the home defence when he connected with a Jones corner from the right 10 minutes later but his header was smothered by Gray.
Nairn felt they should have had a penalty in injury time when substitute Andrew Allan was sent sprawling in the area by goalkeeper Gray but the referee waved away the visitors' appeals and booked the ex-Clach man for diving but it wasn't to matter though as County hung on to claim a vital three points.
Les Fridge may not be 100% happy with the level of performance in this game but he will no doubt be happy to have taken three points away from a side that defeated Nairn at Station Park earlier on this season.
|Jim Calder (GK)||45||17||-||46||-|
|Andrew Allan (sub)||-||9||-||15||-|
|Steve Sanderson (sub)||24||16||4||77||28|
No league table has been added for this season.