5 - 2
Richard Craig (29)
Stuart Walker (35)
Michael Fyfe (44)
Barry Somers (pen.) (57)
Duncan Jones (o.g.) (90)
Duncan Jones (81)
Wayne Mackintosh (83)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Neil Robertson for Jamie Lennox (59)
Johnathon Watt for Kris Niddrie (66)
Jerry O'Driscoll for Barry Somers (77)
Marc MacDonald for Darren Jarvie (35)
Scott Graham for Gregg Main (47)
|Graham Lonie (15)||None.|
A late surge by Nairn County was not enough to prevent them from suffering their heaviest league defeat of the season as reigning Highland League champions Keith dumped Les Fridge's men at Kynoch Park. The visitors competed well for the first half an hour and finished with a flourish in the last ten minutes, but it will be what happened during the 50 minutes in between that will be of concern to Fridge as his side shipped some sloppy goals and lacked inspiration going forward.
The manager went into the game with one hand effectively tied behind his back as he was robbed of the services of his two top goalscorers, Shaun Kerr and Willie Barron. It meant that Chris Finnigan continued in attack and was joined up front by Glenn Main, who was making his first start for the club since returning from Nairn St Ninian in the summer. Neil MacDonald and Darren Jarvie also came back into the starting eleven to replace the injured Steven Edwards and Brian Macleod.
Both sides came flying out of the traps and it was Keith who fashioned the first chance of the match after three minutes as Graham Lonie cut inside Gregg Main wide on the left and saw his low drive parried past the front post by John Campbell at the expense of the first corner of the game.
Four minutes later, Neil MacDonald found Glenn Main's feet with a through pass for Nairn and the County striker spun Keith defender Kris Niddrie. But his low shot from 18 yards was tame and resulted in an easy save for home goalkeeper Andrew Shearer.
The hosts were almost handed the opening goal on a plate in the 26th minute when Martin MacDonald was short with a back pass to John Campbell from the right back area. John Fyfe just managed to get to the ball ahead of the advancing goalkeeper and knock it goalwards but Stephen Skinner was in the right place to clear from the goal line.
The opening goal arrived for the hosts in the 29th minute though. Darren Jarvie lost out in a 50/50 tackle in the centre circle and with ex-Inverness CT youth caught out of position, the Maroons quickly raided down the right through Stuart Walker. His cross picked out Richard Craig in the box and the Keith striker managed to ram the ball home from 10 yards at the second attempt after his first shot was blocked by a Nairn defender.
The home side doubled their advantage six minutes later when they hit Nairn with a classic counter attacking move. A Nairn corner from the right was clear up to Fyfe on the halfway line. He outstripped the County defence with a pacy run down the left before squaring the ball to Walker who rifled home from 25 yards with a sweetly struck first time shot.
The hosts looked to build on their two-goal lead immediately when Jamie Lennox swivelled on the edge of the box before seeing his low shot held by Campbell and then in the 44th minute the same player collected a poor headed clearance by Nairn substitute Marc MacDonald but was again denied by Campbell as the former Hibee held the Keith forward's 15-yard drive.
County really needed to get a goal back before the break to set themselves up for having a real go in the second half. The last thing they needed was to fall further behind but that is exactly what happened in first half stoppage time. Barry Somers' through ball found Fyfe with the time and space to clip the ball over the advancing Campbell and into the net thanks in part to a Duncan Jones deflection. It was to be the start of an eventful day in front of goal at both ends of the park for the County midfielder.
County's plight was worsened after the turnaround as the home side added a fourth early in the second half. Stephen Skinner was beaten all ends up by Walker down the right and his delivery into the box found Fyfe with 57 minutes on the clock. He was bundled to the ground by Martin MacDonald and referee Hamill pointed to the spot leaving Somers to stroke home his second penalty against Nairn this season.
Nairn managed to restrict their hosts as the half wore on but they were failing to make any headway into opposition territory. The closest Martin Allan's side came to adding a fifth was in the 73rd minute when Fyfe's low drive from the edge of the box was held by Campbell.
County went through the gears towards the end of the match and were probably one goal away from being in a position where they could realistically hope to take something for the game and give their hosts a real scare.
It all started in the 78th minute when Wayne Mackintosh's 22-yard drive was parried by Shearer before the Keith shotstopper gathered at the second attempt under pressure from substitute Scott Graham, who impressed on his first league outing for the club.
Then Duncan Jones fired a rocket of a free kick goalwards from 22 yards out on the left that clipped Shearer's left hand post on its way past with the Keith goalkeeper beaten after 80 minutes.
A minute later, Marc MacDonald raced on to a Neil MacDonald through ball down the right. His cross-cum-shot from a tight angle had Shearer scrambling across his goal line and the Keith goalkeeper was forced to concede a corner. Neil MacDonald took the flag kick short to Jones on the left edge of the box, and he rifled home a thunderous shot that flew across Shearer's goal and into the far corner of the net.
County pulled a second goal back in the 83rd minute when they broke up the park following a Keith corner. Neil MacDonald rolled the ball into the path of Mackintosh who smashed home a first time shot with his right foot from 20 yards that left Shearer rooted to the spot.
The visitors then passed up a glorious chance to further reduce the deficit when Jones's free kick from the left was met by a glancing Martin MacDonald header that flashed agonisingly past the far post.
Keith struck the woodwork in the 88th minute when Craig's mis-hit shot landed at the feet of Fyfe who saw his 15-yard drive rebound off the crossbar. From the clearance, Neil MacDonald broke free down the left for Nairn and his cross picked out Graham at the back post but he could only send his acrobatic volley over the crossbar.
There was still time for Keith to add another goal and kill off any lingering hope of a Nairn comeback. Duncan Jones tried to control a Jerry O'Driscoll cut back from the right at front post and with Campbell wrong-footed, the former Aberdeen youth's heavy touch sent the ball trickling over the goal line to complete the hosts' nap hand and end a bizarre game at both ends for the Nairn midfielder.
|John Campbell (GK)||27||11||-||60||-|
|Marc MacDonald (sub)||20||5||-||19||-|
|Scott Graham (sub)||20||2||-||2||-|
No league table has been added for this season.