2 - 1
Brian Thomson (52)
Iain MacRae (pen.) (72)
David MacRae (pen.) (65)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
George Massie for Chris Henderson (46)
Steven Sim for Brian Thomson (64)
Euan Grant for Kerr Gibson (74)
Brian Macleod for Wayne Mackintosh (58)
Duncan Jones for Scott Nicholl (72)
Steve Sanderson for Tony Low (84)
Steven Edwards (19)
Willie Barron (88)
Graham Fraser (Referee)
It was a day of disappointment for Nairn at Rothes as the hosts took the spoils from this dress rehearsal of the cup first round tie between the two sides in a fortnight.
Manager Les Fridge kept faith with the same starting eleven that thrashed Fraserburgh at Station Park a fortnight ago with the only change in personnel coming among the substitutes as Scott Kellacher replaced Johnny Seaton, who missed out due to family commitments.
Rothes broke the deadlock seven minutes into the second half through veteran forward Brian Thomson but Nairn got back on level terms as David MacRae stroked home from the penalty spot. The hosts got a spot-kick of their own 18 minutes from time which was scored by Iain MacRae and that ended up seperating the sides as County failed to break down a stubborn Rothes resistence led by inspirational goalkeeper Darren Strong.
After a slow start to the proceedings, it was Rothes who carved open the first opportunity in the 21st minute as a throughball from Michael Ewan was dummied by Paul Winton in the stride of Chris Grant. His low shot was parried away by Nairn goalkeeper John Campbell though.
County should have been awarded a penalty three minutes later as David MacRae was clearly fouled in the box defender Iain MacRae but referee Graham Fraser, who was only a matter of yards away from the incident, waved away the Nairn protests to the bewilderment of the travelling support. But the ball then broke to Nairn full-back Scott Nicholl and his rasping 20-yard drive was tipped wide by Strong.
Then on the half-hour mark, Iain Brooks rounded Rothes goalkeeper Strong but the ex-Wick shotstopper forced the Nairn forward wide making the angle too tight to convert. So Brooks opted to lay the ball into the stride of MacRae who's shot was palmed wide by Strong.
From the resulting Wayne Mackintosh corner, Martin MacDonald connected with a header but his effort was straight at the goalkeeper.
Rothes were a matter of inches a way from opening the scoring in the 32nd minute. A Winton ball over the Nairn backline caught the County defence napping and found Ewen in acres of space. His low shot went across the face of goal and rattled the inside of the far post before being gathered by John Campbell to the relief of the visitors.
Nairn continued the huff and puff almost as much as the swirling wind that engulfed MacKessack Park and again went close through MacRae seven minutes before the break. The ball broke kindly to the Nairn midfielder at the edge of the box but his low drive was excellently tipped around the post by Strong.
Rothes got their noses in front seven minutes into the second half as Kevin Shortreed's cross from the left picked out Thomson at the back post and the veteran made no mistake as he rose highest to nod the Speysiders into the lead.
There was to be more frustration in front of goal for Nairn as they almost got back on level terms three minutes after going behind. An Iain Brooks cross from the right was met by a header from MacDonald but Iain MacRae was in the right place to hack the ball clear from the goal-line.
County restored parity in the 65th minute as they were awarded a penalty. Willie Barron weaved his way down the left wing before cutting into the box and being scythed down by Shortreed. Referee Fraser this time opted to point to the spot and David MacRae stepped forward the place the ball past Strong for his 16th goal of the season.
MacRae's hard work closing down the Rothes defenders in possession almost paid great dividends in the 70th minute as he forced Mark Adam into a panicked pass that was intercepted by Martin MacDonald. The ex-Brora forward rifled a shot goalwards from 22-yards but he too was denied by Strong who parried the ball to safety.
Two minutes later the home side restored their lead. Chris Grant burst into the box and hit the deck after brushing past John MacAskill. Referee Fraser pointed to the spot, despite it looking as if the Rothes winger had run the ball out of play anyway, and Iain MacRae strode forward from defence to blast the ball beyond Campbell.
Nairn continued to press forward in search of another equaliser and Tony Low surged down the right in the 82nd minute but his inviting cross found no takers.
A minute later, substitute Duncan Jones tried his luck when he collected a cleared corner some 25-yards from goal but his rasping drive was palmed away by the diving Strong as Nairn's final opportunity of the game went abegging to ensure the home side took all three points despite only creating five goalscoring chances all afternoon to Nairn's 11.
A disappointing result for Nairn and one they will look to put behind them as quickly as possible ahead of next week's final League game of the season at home to Fort William. It will also give the side added incentive going into the cup clash between the two teams at MacKessack Park in a fortnight's time.
|John Campbell (GK)||26||11||-||11||-|
|Steve Sanderson (sub)||24||24||5||85||29|
|Duncan Jones (sub)||21||24||5||24||5|
|Brian Macleod (sub)||24||28||1||87||6|
No league table has been added for this season.