2 - 1
2 - 1
Willie Barron (67)
Willie Barron (70)
|Sean Henstridge (25)|
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Chris Finnigan for Marc MacDonald (61)
Glenn Main for Neil MacDonald (83)
Gary Weir for Sean Henstridge (58)
Johnny Seaton for Bryan McKiddie (75)
Shaun Sinclair for Stuart Sinclair (79)
Wayne Mackintosh (44)
Willie Barron (90)
|Craig Shearer (75)|
Captain Willie Barron provided the inspirational spark Nairn County needed to shake off stuffy visitors Wick Academy at Station Park and record their third straight league win. The Harmsworth Park outfit looked good value for their half time lead against a disjointed County team, but they wilted after the hosts went through the gears during the last half an hour.
Boss Les Fridge made one change to his starting line up from last week. Marc MacDonald was a surprise starter after injury ruled out Martin MacDonald. It meant a shuffle in personnel as Darren Jarvie slotted into the defence, Brian Macleod switched to the left of midfield and MacDonald took over on the right.
The hosts made a bright start to the match and were on the attack after three minutes. Neil MacDonald swung in a deep corner from the right that found its way to Marc MacDonald at the back post but his header back across goal found no takes.
Four minutes later MacDonald was again the provider. This time the ex-Ross County man swung in a cross from deep on the right that picked out Willie Barron but his first time shot was held by Wick goalkeeper James More at his front post.
The County defence were given a warning on the quarter-hour mark when Richard MacAdie's corner from the left found Stewart Ross in the box but his towering header flashed over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, the hosts were back on the attack when Barron squared the ball to Brian Macleod but his curling right-footed shot from the edge of the box just lacked that extra bit of bend to take it inside the far post.
The visitors broke the deadlock with 25 minutes on the clock with the County defence caught at sixes and sevens. A harmless looking cross from the right wasn't cleared properly by the home rearguard and the ball broke to Gary Farquhar on the edge of the box. His shot was blocked but the ball fell into the path of Sean Henstridge who beat John Campbell in the race to collect before the striker slotted a low, angled shot under the advancing goalkeeper from 10 yards.
County looked to hit back immediately when Brian Macleod powered a low cross towards the box from the left in the 28th minute. His delivery was blocked at the front post and spun high into the air and when it dropped, Macleod struck it goalwards first time from a tight angle but his drive was held by More.
Barron's effort five minutes before half time summed up County's increasing desperation as the half wore on. With no other options, he tried his luck with a shot from over 30 yards that rolled harmlessly across goal and past the post.
Only a Martin Sanderson block prevented Academy from doubling their lead two minutes before the break. A cross from the left broke to MacAdie 15 yards out after a scramble in the Nairn box and Sanderson threw himself in the way of the ball after the former Ross County youngster fired in a shot that was surely net-bound.
The home side were the happier of the two teams to hear the half time whistle and came out looking to immediately get back on level terms. Barron did well to take down a high Mackintosh pass wide on the right before skipping past Neil Traill. He then smashed the ball across goal and only a vital touch from goalkeeper More took it off the toes of the lurking Shaun Kerr who would only have needed to make contact with the ball to send it over the line.
A poor first touch from Gary Manson let the hosts off the hook ten minutes after the restart. The Wick midfielder looked in on goal when he managed to stay onside after a high ball forward had drifted over the head of County defender Darren Jarvie. But with the goal almost at his mercy, his touch let him down as the ball bounced off his foot and into the welcoming arms of Campbell.
The visitors went even closer to adding a second in the 58th minute. When referee McKay blew for a free kick in a dangerous position on the left, the home support held its breath as Farquhar stepped up to whip it in. They had seen it all before from the former Nairn midfield maestro, and he didn't disappoint as his delightful delivery picked out the unmarked Manson with pinpoint accuracy. But he could only steer his header past the far post. It was to be a costly miss for the visitors.
County boss Fridge threw on summer signing Chris Finnigan just after the hour mark for Marc MacDonald and went to three up front and it was the added pace provided by the ex-Elgin City man that turned the game in the hosts' favour.
They levelled things after 67 minutes and Finnigan was involved when he found Kerr's feet with a pass in from the left. County's top scorer exquisitely flicked the ball into the path of Barron, who had the time to take a touch and compose himself before picking his spot from 15 yards leaving More helpless.
The turnaround was complete three minutes later with an early contended for goal of the season. Barron collected the ball in his own half in the middle of the park before surging forward, outpacing four defenders. The Nairn skipper then spotted goalkeeper More off his line and proceeded to lift the ball over his head with a magnificent lob from 30 yards that found the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Neil MacDonald almost put the result beyond doubt for the home side but his low drive from the right edge of the box flew across goal and just past the far post after 73 minutes.
A minute later, the visitors had the chance to draw level when a pass infield from the right was intelligently stepped over by Gary Weir for the waiting Farquhar whose curling shot from 18 yards only just went over Campbell's crossbar.
Finnigan did his best to top Barron's goal 11 minutes from time when he sprinted forward from his own half down the right. He breezed past full back Traill before knocking the ball past More but the goalkeeper had done enough to force the Nairn man wide. With the angle against him, Finnigan tried to screw the ball home but Triall had recovered sufficiently to clear at the front post.
The visitors had one final chance to snatch a point after 85 minutes when MacAdie teed up Ross but his thunderous shot from 22 yards flashed over Campbell's crossbar as Nairn held on for all three points.
|John Campbell (GK)||27||7||-||56||-|
|Glenn Main (sub)||22||6||-||16||-|
|Chris Finnigan (sub)||21||4||-||4||-|
No league table has been added for this season.