0 - 2
Shaun Kerr (49)
Martin MacDonald (52)
Tony Farquhar for Michael Steven (52)
Nile McNiven for Arron Christie (70)
Garry Perks for Shane Sutherland (78)
Scott Graham for Shaun Kerr (78)
Glenn Main for Duncan Jones (86)
Stephen Skinner (75)
A convincing display by Nairn County ensured that they picked up another three points on the road to bounce back in the best possible way from the disappointment of last week's Scottish Cup exit. The result lifts Nairn up to joint second place in the Highland League table, three points behind pace setters Buckie Thistle.
Les Fridge's man controlled the first half but could not break down the stubborn Brora defence, marshalled by ex-County full back Mark Smith. But after the interval, Nairn found their shooting boots and were two goals to the good early on in the half thanks to strikes from Shaun Kerr and Martin MacDonald, which were separated by only three minutes. The visitors were comfortable for the remainder of the half and should really have killed the game off completely in the final ten minutes but they passed up some gilt-edged chances in front of goal.
Fridge was without the suspended Neil MacDonald for the match but brought Brian Macleod back into the starting line up in the only change from last week's side.
Forward Chris Finnigan, a substitute at Buckie seven days ago, was ruled out because of a knee injury and saw his place on the bench taken by Marc MacDonald.
County were playing with the slight wind in the first half and Steven Edwards almost took advantage of that with six minutes on the clock. The County midfielder chested down the ball some 30 yards from goal after a Nairn corner was headed clear and sent a looping volley goalwards that drifted inches past the goalkeeper's right hand post.
Only the woodwork prevented the visitors from opening the scoring six minutes later. Martin Sanderson picked out Martin MacDonald with a through ball that any attacking player would have been proud of. The ex-Brora man rounded the goalkeeper but saw his shot from a tight angle come back off the outside of the post to let the home side off the hook.
Willie Barron was next to go close to scoring for Nairn after in the 22nd minute but his shot from the left edge of the box was easily held by Brora goalkeeper Michael Gray. Then at the other end, Brora had their first sight of goal but Scot Mackay-Steven volleyed wildly over from 15 yards after 24 minutes.
Mackay-Steven then almost turned provider when he whipped in an inviting cross to the front post on the half hour mark that was headed behind by Martin Sanderson at the expense of a corner with Shane Sutherland waiting to pounce.
Five minutes later, the visitors should have been celebrating the opening goal. Barron made a great tackle in the left back area to dispossess Sutherland and started a Nairn counter attack by charging forward. The County skipper slipped the ball inside to Shaun Kerr who left the home side's center halves in his wake but with time to pick his spot, the ex-Ross County forward fired his shot straight at Gray who blocked with his legs.
The home side passed up a great opportunity themselves in the 37th minute when Mackay-Steven played in Gary Macleod down the right. The Brora full back hit the by-line and picked out the unmarked Aaron Christie at the back post but the former Inverness CT youngster headed wide when he should have at least tested goalkeeper John Campbell.
From the goal kick, Nairn were back on the attack when Barron surged down the left but again saw his low drive held by Gray and then five minutes before the interval, County were the width of the crossbar away from taking the lead. Duncan Jones squared a free kick inside to Wayne Mackintosh and the Nairn midfielder's powerful drive from 25 yards skimmed the crossbar on its way over.
It took only four second half minutes for County to get their noses in front as they finally penetrated the home side's resistance. Duncan Jones whipped in a pin point corner from the right that Shaun Kerr headed goalwards at the front post. Gray made the save, holding on to the ball as he dived to the ground but referee John Bicknell ruled that the ball had crossed the line as the power in Kerr's header proved to be too much for the shotstopper.
And three minutes later, Fridge's side doubled their advantage. Jones was again the source as he launched a free kick into the box from deep on the left. The ball was headed down by Steven Edwards to Willie Barron who saw his volley from 10 yards parried by Gray. But Martin MacDonald was first to react as he got in front of the Brora defenders to stab home the loose ball for his second goal in as many games.
By this stage, Nairn were comfortably in control of the match as the defence withstood everything Brora had to offer in an attacking sense while Fridge's midfield five retained the ball well without the need to chase forward in search of another goal.
It took until the 80th minute for the home side to come close to halving the deficit. Jim Kelly's trio of substitutes were involved as Tony Farquhar laid the ball off to Gary Perks on the left. He fired a low cross across the face of goal that was only a few inches in front of the outstretched leg of Nile McNiven at the back post.
Nairn should have killed the game off five minutes from the end when substitute Scott Graham raced down the left and cut the ball back to Gregg Main. He squared it across the penalty box to the unmarked Barron on the right and the Nairn front man cut in and went round Gray on the inside. Just as he was about the wheel away in celebration, home defender Jason Gunn appeared from nowhere to toe the County captain's shot off the goal-line at the expense of a corner. From the resulting flag kick, Steven Edwards' first time drive from the right edge of the box was deflected past the post.
|John Campbell (GK)||27||15||-||64||-|
|Glenn Main (sub)||22||10||-||20||-|
|Scott Graham (sub)||20||6||-||6||-|
No league table has been added for this season.