1 - 1
1 - 1
Gregg Main (21)
||Bruce Cormie (75)|
Shaun Kerr for Scott Graham (82)
Steven Edwards for Gregg Main (84)
Neil Murray for Hamish Munro (61)
Adam Maitland for Gary McGowan (84)
Colin Robertson (60)
Alan Redford (70)
Gary McGowan (82)
A vastly improved Nairn County side collected their first point of 2008 after a highly entertaining affair at Station Park saw the hosts and visitors Huntly settle for a share of the spoils. Both sides will feel they had done enough to claim all three points after Nairn took a first half lead and had chances to add a second goal before they had a shot cleared off the goal line after they were pegged back to 1-1. Huntly on the other hand had the majority of the possession in the second half and piled bodies forward as they probed for a way back into the game and they finally grabbed an equaliser 15 minutes from the end.
After last week's heavy defeat at Clach, nothing less than a fully committed and passionate display from the home side was demanded and they delivered. It wasn't quite the stuff of the Phoenix rising up from the ashes but more akin to an alcoholic taking the first steps on the road to recovery as Les Fridge's men look to get their season back on track. And next week's trip to Forres will tell if the team have discovered their taste for the rough-and-tumble of derby encounters.
Fridge swung the axe with his team selection, dropping Stephen Skinner, Steven Edwards and Shaun Kerr to the substitutes bench and replacing them with Chris Finnigan and Scott Graham - who played up front together - while Darren Jarvie came in at left wing back. This allowed Gregg Main to revert to his preferred position in the middle of the park where he was joined by captain Willie Barron and Wayne Mackintosh. In the last tactical change, Duncan Jones dropped back to play sweeper allowing Martin Sanderson to accompany Martin MacDonald at centre half.
Huntly had the first attack of the match eight minutes in when Colin Robertson raced forward from midfield to latch on to a long ball over the County defence. The Huntly midfielder took the ball down in his stride but after bearing down on goal, he was denied by a last ditch tackle by Duncan Jones just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Three minutes later the visitors came even closer to breaking the deadlock when, with his back to goal, Bruce Cormie controlled a Michael Morrison pass with his chest before volleying on the turn towards the Nairn goal. The former Formartine United striker was denied by a superb flying save by John Campbell who tipped the ball over the crossbar.
A Nairn defensive error then gifted Huntly another chance in the 16th minute when Martin Sanderson tried to pick out Brian Macleod with a header. His effort was short though and landed in the path of Cormie but the Huntly striker shot wildly over the bar from 15 yards.
At the other end, County were the width of the post away from breaking the deadlock after 19 minutes. Wayne Mackintosh tired his luck with a low shot from 25 yards but his effort was tamed and looked to be an easy take for Huntly goalkeeper Stewart Gray. He dropped the ball at the feet of Chris Finnigan though but the angle was too tight for the County forward and his shot from the right came back off the outside of the near post.
Two minutes later though, the hosts did make the breakthrough. Macleod's pass inside from the right found the unmarked Gregg Main 22 yards out from the centre of the goals. The Nairn midfield man worked the ball onto his favoured right foot before blasting a low shot across goalkeeper Gray and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
The visitors almost drew level a minute before the interval when Sanderson was grounded because of injury in the Nairn box and played the Huntly attackers onside. The ball broke to the unmarked Morrison who smashed a shot from the left edge of the area towards the top right hand corner but John Campbell flew across his line to claw the ball to safety.
Nairn had a decent shout for a penalty turned down less than a minute after the restart as Finnigan was wrestled to the ground by Morrison after being picked out by a Duncan Jones free kick and turning inside the former Forres defender but referee Frew waved away the home side's appeals.
A foul on the edge of the Huntly area presented Nairn with a great chance to double their lead from the resulting free kick in an inviting position but Jones blasted the set piece well over the bar.
Campbell had to be alert to keep his side in front in the 51st minute when Morrison whipped in a cross from the left that looked to be creeping in under the crossbar until the backpedalling shotstopper tipped the ball over the top.
County had a second penalty appeal turned down on the hour mark when a corner was cleared to Willie Barron 25 yards out. He clipped the ball to Sanderson in the left channel and the Nairn centre half hit the by-line and tried to cut it back across goal. But the ball appeared to strike the arm of Huntly defender Alan Redford however for the second time in the game, the Nairn appeals fell on deaf ears.
Six minutes later, Nairn almost hit their visitors with a deadly counter attack. Main raced up the middle of the park and released Finnigan down the right. He played the ball inside and into the path of the on-running Wayne Mackintosh, who rounded Gray but found himself at an acute angle as he tried to direct the ball into the net. Unfortunately though, the Nairn midfielder could only find the side netting.
The visitors were level a quarter of an hour before the end and it was a defensive error by the otherwise impressive Duncan Jones that presented Huntly with the chance. Morrison's low drive was deflected high into the air by the heel of Nairn defender Sanderson and as Jones attempted to clear the danger, he completely missed the ball. It bounced and landed at the feet of the unmarked Bruce Cormie who coolly tucked home underneath the helpless Campbell from 10 yards on the right.
Jones looked to make immediate amends two minutes later when he picked out Martin MacDonald with a high free kick into the box. The ex-Brora man headed the ball past the advancing Gray and to the feet of Finnigan but the former Inverness CT youth was at too tight an angle and could only hook his shot over the bar.
And Jones had an even better chance to make up for his mistake at the other end 10 minutes from time as Nairn put together the best attacking move of the game. Scott Graham raced forward on the left as County broke up the park. The former Fort William man played the ball inside to Jones who helped it on to Main on the right. He cut into the box before squaring the ball across the six-yard box to Jones. But with the goal gaping and only one Huntly player on the line, the former Aberdeen youngster somehow managed to hit the Tigers' midfielder Mark Gray who was in the right place at the right time to block Jones' tame effort.
The visitors had two chances to grab what would have been an unjust winner and hard on a plucky County side whose defensive was far more organised and solid than last week. Substitute Neil Murray fired a powerful 25-yard shot at Campbell's goal but his effort was straight at the Nairn shotstopper who gathered easily before Murray's cross from the right picked out the unmarked Russell Guild at the back post but his header was clawed away by Campbell.
|John Campbell (GK)||28||23||-||72||-|
|Steven Edwards (sub)||26||19||-||114||3|
|Shaun Kerr (sub)||21||21||10||21||10|
No league table has been added for this season.