2 - 1
2 - 1
Shaun Kerr (41)
Duncan Jones (44)
|Ross McWilliam (65)|
Duncan Jones for Martin Sanderson (24)
Glenn Main for Shaun Kerr (69)
Jonathan Holland for Scott Graham (89)
Richard Singer for Scott Buchan (57)
Neil Gauld for Roddy Mess (57)
Roddy Mess (44)
Neil Gauld (65)
Darren Jarvie (31)
Morag Pirie (Referee)
Two goals in the final five minutes of the first half were enough for Nairn County to get their end-of-season winning streak back on track after the slip up last week against Fraserburgh.
Inverurie Locos came into this match as a team on the slide and that was the way it continued as they were edged out by a hungrier, more determined County outfit whose players looked more like they were fighting for places in the team for a show piece cup final as opposed to the lacklustre visitors.
Les Fridge - who is now the third longest serving manager in the Highland League behind old timers Charlie Duncan of Fraserburgh and Keith's Martin Allan - was without the suspended Chris Finnigan, sent off in last week's defeat, and Steven Edwards, who has collected one too many yellow cards, for this one while Martin MacDonald was injured. But the manager welcomed back Wayne Mackintosh, Shaun Kerr and Gary Black to the starting line up while Jonathon Holland and Ross Mackenzie also returned to the substitutes bench.
The home side was the more adventurous in the opening stages showing a lot more vigour than their visitors and looking like the team who wanted it more overall. But their hopes took a severe dent just after the half-hour mark when Darren Jarvie was shown a straight red card for a last-man challenge on Craig Ross at the edge of the box. That only served to re-galvanise the home side though and they broke the deadlock ten minutes later when top goalscorer Shaun Kerr found the net after a pinpoint Wayne Mackintosh pass before Duncan Jones doubled County's lead with a great free kick three minutes later. Locos halved the deficit in the second half when McWilliam bundled home 20 minutes after the restart but County held on to pick up another three points in their final home game of the season.
County came flying out of the traps and could have grabbed an opening goal with only one minute on the clock. A long Jarvie ball forward from left back dropped over the shoulder of Scott Graham who took it on first time but his looping volley from 18 yards dipped just over the crossbar.
Then the hosts passed up a golden opportunity to get their noses in front after only six minutes when Willie Barron surged down the right wing and cut the ball back into the box from the by-line. It found Shaun Kerr only four yards from goal but he opened his body letting the ball run across him and somehow managed to place his left-footed shot over the crossbar.
Nairn were forced into a reshuffle in the 24th minute when Martin Sanderson - in his last game for the club - limped off injured and was replaced by Duncan Jones.
The Locos almost made their hosts pay for their slackness in front of goal when they came close to breaking the deadlock in the 29th minute. Neil McLean's free kick into the box from 25 yards out on the right found the head of the unmarked Craig Ross but his effort was kept out by a fine reaction save from John Campbell.
The visitors' hopes were given a massive boost in the 31st minute as Nairn were reduced to ten men. Ross skipped inside Darren Jarvie from the right and was hauled down by the County full back on the edge of the box. Referee Morag Pirie blew for the foul and promptly sent off the former Inverness CT youngster for his last man challenge.
But to any latecomers, Nairn would have looked like the team with the extra man the way the game was going and they opened the scoring four minutes before half time.
Wayne Mackintosh made a piercing run up the centre of the park from the centre circle before playing a neat through ball to Shaun Kerr from the edge of the box. The former Ross County youngster didn't have to be asked twice as he coolly slotted a first time shot past the advancing David Christie from 10 yards to break the deadlock.
And the home side were two in front only three minutes later as the visitors were lucky not to be reduced to ten men themselves. Scott Graham raced past Roddy Mess towards goal but was tripped by the Locos defender who appeared to be the last defender. Referee Pirie only felt the need to brandish a yellow card on this occasion for some reason but Duncan Jones stepped up to exquisitely curl home the resulting free kick from 22 yards to double Nairn's advantage.
The hosts were denied by a goal line clearance ten minutes after the restart as McLean's corner from the right was missed by Campbell's punch and the loose ball broke to Craig Ross. But his first time shot from 10 yards was hacked clear by the well-positioned Gregg Main.
Inverurie did pull one back though in the 65th minute when Singer's ball into the box from the right was flicked away by Gary Black's header. It only went as far as McLean on the left though and when he fired it back into the box, Ross McWilliam was on hand to slot the ball home from 10 yards out at the front post.
Locos were now the dominant force in the game and County had resorted to playing on the counter attack and they broke away superbly in the 67th minute when Jones raced down the right but his low shot from 30 yards was held by Christie.
The Brothers Main combined to almost re-establish County's two-goal cushion four minutes later when substitute Glenn surged down the left and picked out younger sibling Gregg inside but from the right edge of the penalty area the Nairn midfielder sent his left-footed shot flashing past the far post by only a matter of inches.
It was the home side who were back on the attack again in the 73rd minute and again it was Jones who started the move with a run down the right. This time he squared the ball inside to Mackintosh but his effort from 25 yards drifted across goal and wide.
Nairn were soaking up more and more pressure as the game went on and they escaped only by the skins of their collective teeth in the 79th minute. Singer's cross from the right caused confusion between Campbell and defender Stephen Skinner as both failed to take resposibility to deal with the danger. The loose ball broke to Kenny Coull but the striker saw his shot from only five yards out hit the back of the now grounded Campbell and trickle past the post.
The visitors had one final chance to snatch a share of the spoils seven minutes from the end when Murray McCulloch sent a high cross into the box from the left that was met by a looping Ross header but his effort caused Campbell no problems as it sailed over the crossbar.
|John Campbell (GK)||28||33||-||82||-|
|Glenn Main (sub)||22||19||-||29||-|
|Jonathan Holland (sub)||29||6||-||6||-|
|Duncan Jones (sub)||23||28||7||85||16|
No league table has been added for this season.