2 - 4
North of Scotland Cup (Semi Final)
Jamie Mackenzie (9)
Nigel Mackenzie (90)
Brian Macleod (59)
Willie Barron (69)
Martin MacDonald (105)
David MacRae (112)
Murray Coghill for Gary Farquhar (62)
M MacGregor for Graeme Reid (71)
Gavin Henderson for Lamb (88)
Martin MacDonald for Steve Sanderson (60)
Jason Robertson for Willie Barron (86)
Scott Nicholl for Brian Macleod (101)
Nigel Mackenzie (67)
Gary Manson (69)
Steve Sanderson (41)
John MacAskill (82)
Scott Nicholl (116)
Two extra time goals from Martin MacDonald and David MacRae were enough to see Nairn County progress to their first cup final since 1986 thanks to a 4-2 victory over Wick Academy at Harmsworth Park.
Gaffer Les Fridge made two changes to the side that played at Fraserburgh last week as John Mackay was unavailable and MacDonald dropped down to the bench. Their places in the starting line-up were taken by Martin Sanderson, who was returning after a suspension and Steven Sanderson.
The home side went in ahead at the break but Brian Macleod levelled things with a wonder strike for Nairn before Willie Barron put County in front soonafter. But the visitors' hearts were broken in the final minute as Wick equalised to send the match into extra time but County dug deep, despite that sickening set-back, to re-establish their lead through subsitute MacDonald at the end of the first 15-minute period. MacRae settled Nairn's ever-increasing nerves with a late goal to put gloss on the victory.
The hosts took the lead with the first true attack of the evening with a break away goal from a Nairn free-kick. A Scott Kellacher delivery from 20-yards hit the wall and was hacked clear down wind by Andy Macleod. His long ball was collected by Jamie Mackenzie, who turned past County's Martin Sanderson and raced through on goal before drilling a low shot past Jim Calder.
Tony Low had Nairn's first chance of the night halfway through the half. The former Inverness CT winger got in behind the home defence but he could only succeed in driving his 16-yard shot into the side netting.
Nigel Mackenzie almost doubled the Wick lead as the home side tried to take advantage of having the wind at their backs. He controlled a low Manson cross from the left but his shot on the turn went over Calder's crossbar.
Nairn finished the half stronger and almost drew level on the stroke of the interval. Iain Brooks' powerful shot was blocked by a Wick defender straight to Steve Sanderson but he tried to place the ball from 12-yards and saw home keeper Don MacMillan deflect the ball away to safety.
County came out all guns blazing for the second half determined to get back into the game now that they were playing with the wind behind them. And they drew level in dramatic fashion a minute before the hour mark. Brian Macleod unleashed a thunderbolt of a strike from over 30-yards that flew singed the gras as it flashed along the deck and into the keeper's bottom right hand corner.
This added momentum to the Nairn cause and they got their noses in front 10 minutes later. Tony Low charged down the left and cut the ball back to Willie Barron who had no trouble in tapping home his first goal of the season at the front post.
Nairn continued to dominate play until the last minute when the home side drew level. Nigel Mackenzie intercepted a weak back-pass by Johnny Seaton to race through and slot home to the agony of the visitors.
Indeed Wick almost snatched it at the end as County threatened to capitulate but Mackenzie wasted the chance when well placed.
Les Fridge and his management team had a job on their hands lifting the gutted players for the extra 30 minutes after being so close to progressing but whatever they said paid off in the final minute of the first 15-minute period. A high ball into the box was knocked down by Iain Brooks to sub Martin MacDonald. He saw his first two shots blocked but it was a case of third time lucky as the former Brora striker rammed home to spark jubilant scenes in the away dugout and amongst the travelling support.
The Scorries pushed numbers forward in the second period in a desperate bid to rescue the game but they came unstuck as County booked their place in next week's final with a fourth. MacDonald got in behind the home defence and unselfishly laid to ball off for David MacRae who rifled home into the roof of the net from 12-yards to ensure that Nairn will be playing in the North of Scotland Cup final for the first time since 1966.
A brilliant performance in extra time from Nairn to grind out the result despite the disappointment of coming so close to winning the tie after 90 minutes. The side now progress to the final to face Forres Mechanics at Grant Street Park in Inverness on Saturday October 29 at 3 pm.
|Jim Calder (GK)||45||9||-||38||-|
|Martin MacDonald (sub)||23||14||5||14||5|
|Scott Nicholl (sub)||22||7||-||23||-|
|Jason Robertson (sub)||18||3||-||7||-|
No league table has been added for this season.