1 - 4
North of Scotland Cup (1st Round)
|Ewan Mellis (50)||
Martin Sanderson (39)
Darren Shallicker (43)
David MacRae (78)
Willie Barron (88)
Charlesworth for Ramsey (55)
McKenzie for Mellis (78)
Kerr for Urquhart (86)
David MacRae for Scott Nicholl (65)
Willie Barron for Darren Shallicker (71)
Scott Kellacher for Iain Brooks (80)
Scott Nicholl (55)
David MacRae (70)
Ross Hamill (Referee)
Nairn County's defence of the North of Scotland Cup got off to a tremendous start as they over-ran a strong Elgin City side by four goals to one at Borough Briggs.
Gaffer Les Fridge opted to stick with a side similar to that of Saturday's derby win over Forres, with only Scott Nicholl coming in for the injured Brian Macleod, the same move being made on Saturday when Macleod went down injured early on. The gaffer resisted the temptation to throw the returning David MacRae, Scott Kellacher and Willie Barron into the starting line up, leaving the trio on the bench alongside Martin MacDonald meaning that Nairn had plenty of fire power in reserve if required.
And from the off it looked as if that extra strength wouldn't be required as County dominated their Third Division hosts by monopolising possession and dictating the play but without creating any real clear-cut chances.
This almost came back to haunt the holders though half an hour in when Steven Mackay rolled a free-kick into the path of his fellow former Forres man Craig Campbell but the Elgin right-back proceeded to blast the ball high over the crossbar and out of the ground.
Elgin finally began to come into the game after this and Michael Wilson even had the ball in the County net but he was flagged offside well before executing his shot.
Nairn finally made their dominance of this Quarter Final tie pay in the 39th minute as they broke the deadlock. Duncan Jones whipped in a fierce corner from the left that Steven Edwards connected with but his effort was blocked by an Elgin defender.
Martin Sanderson was on hand though to blast the loose ball into the net to give Nairn the lead and score his second goal in two games in this competition in the process.
Only four minutes later, County doubled their advantage in awesome style. Good work from Tony Low saw him force Wilson into conceding a corner and the Nairn winger's quick thinking saw him deliver the flag kick early. He flighted the ball into the box perfectly for Darren Shalliker to thunder home an overhead kick from 15 yards leaving the home goalkeeper helpless and netting his second goal in as many games in a Nairn shirt in the process.
No doubt Nairn boss Les Fridge reiterated to his players during the the break the importance of keeping things tight at the back in the opening minutes of the second half to prevent the home side from grabbing the goal that would see them back into the tie. And Brian Irvine's men did exactly that as they halved the deficit in the 49th minute. County gave the ball away in the middle of the park and slack play saw them fail to win it back as the hosts swept down the left side with ease before a low cross whipped into the box wasn't cleared by the Nairn back line allowing Ewen Mellis to nip in and fire home from close range to grab his side a lifeline.
But the hosts' chances of progressing were dealt a hammer blow on the hour mark as they were reduced to ten men. Former Nairn trialist Steven Mackay, who was already on a booking, dived in with a reckless and disgraceful two-footed challenge on Nairn man Neil MacDonald and received the inevitable red card for his troubles.
Nairn made sure of their progress to a semi final clash at their Golspie Sutherland or Inverness CT as they added a third goal in the 78th minute. Low showed tremendous skill and balance to skip past a number of challenges down the right wing before delivering a low cross into the box that Elgin keeper Stuart Knight appeared to gather.
But the home shotstopper made a real of hash of what appeared to be a routine catch under little or no pressure as he dropped the ball at the feet of Nairn sub David MacRae who had the easy task of rifling the ball high into the net from close range beyond the despairing shotstopper.
County almost added a fourth goal with eight minutes left on the clock as Low again found space to scamper down the right and fire in a cross that substitute Willie Barron connected with a powerful header but his effort came crashing back off of the crossbar with Knight grasping at thin air.
The Elgin keeper's nightmare evening went from bad to worse in the 88th minute when Steven Edwards tried hid luck with a quick free-kick from the halfway line. Knight appeared to have the situation under control but he inexplicably palmed the ball behind for a corner. Jones stepped up to whip in the delivery to the back post where Low headed it back across goal to the unmarked Barron who nodded home from close range past the rooted Elgin shotstopper.
An emphatic win for County as they started their defence of this trophy in a great way as well as continuing their impressive form from the weekend's destruction of Forres Mechanics. The "free" week couldn't have come at a worse time for Nairn now though as they appear to have returned to form but have to sit out until August 26. It's now down to the management team to ensure the momentum is kept ticking over until that Qualifying Cup showdown with Forres.
|John Campbell (GK)||26||2||-||17||-|
|Willie Barron (sub)||25||2||2||122||38|
|David MacRae (sub)||-||2||2||71||38|
|Scott Kellacher (sub)||25||2||-||121||51|
No league table has been added for this season.