2 - 0
Gary Nicol (3)
Scott Michie (63)
|Richie Singer for Gary Nicol (49)||
Marc MacDonald for Martin MacDonald (73)
Morag Pirie (Referee)
A goal in each half ensured that it was Nairn County's 100% record that fell at Harlaw Park after the battle of the two sides who had both made a perfect start to the league season.
Nairn boss Les Fridge made a bold team selection after last week's win over Wick Academy. After switching to a 3-4-3 formation for the last half an hour of that match after the introduction of Chris Finnigan, County went on to turn the match on its head as they came from behind to win 2-1. For this match, the manager opted to keep faith with Finnigan in attack in the absence of both Neil MacDonald and Steven Edwards. Marc MacDonald dropped down to the substitutes bench in favour of the returning Martin MacDonald who played in defence meaning that Darren Jarvie moved back to his favoured left midfield position.
The home side managed to break the deadlock with their first attack of the match after County had broke forward and looked promising in attack after getting the match underway from the centre. Scott Buchan hit the deck on the edge of the Nairn box under little pressure from Nairn's Willie Barron when it looked as if the County skipper had won the ball. But referee Morag Pirie blew her whistle for a free kick and Gary Nicol stepped up to curl the ball around the Nairn wall and into goalkeeper John Campbell's bottom left hand corner to give the hosts the lead in this top of the table clash.
The match entered a lull of middle of the park play, dominated by the home side who found it hard to break down County's system at the back. Despite this, it was Nairn who had the next chance of the game in the 29th minute when a long ball forward was excellently controlled by Shaun Kerr. He fed it to Willie Barron but the Nairn forward's volley from the left edge of the box flashed wide of home goalkeeper Paul Jarvie's near post.
Three minutes later, the visitors were back on the attack when they won a free kick some 22 yards from goal. Duncan Jones stepped up to curl the set-piece goalwards but his effort was comfortably held by Jarvie who dived low to his left to make the save.
Locos had the chance to double their lead a minute before half time when they worked a short corner on the right to Tommy Wilson. He whipped in a cross to the back post that picked out Mark Simpson but his header flew across the face of goal and wide of the post.
The home side had several chances to double their lead immediately after the restart. Firstly, Neil McLean broke away from Martin MacDonald down the left and whipped in an inviting ball to the front post in the 54th minute. His delivery was met by Scott Michie but somehow the former Aberdeen man directed his side-footed volley over the crossbar from only a couple of yards out.
Then, three minutes later, substitute Richie Singer whipped in a corner from the left that was met by a diving header by the unmarked Mark Simpson but he managed to only direct his effort past the back post instead of into the net.
A minute before the hour-mark, the home side must have thought they had doubled their advantage when Ross broke down the right and fired in a cross to Nicky Gordon at the back post. With the goal gaping though, the ex-Cove Rangers striker could only put his shot from a couple of yards past the post.
The next goal in the match was always going to be crucial. If County could nick it, they may have been able to turn the tide and mount a comeback for the second week in succession but if the home side grabbed a second it would surely be enough to put them out of sight. And it was the Locos who added a second goal in the 63rd minute when their increasing domination of the match eventually paid off. It all came from a Nairn corner on the right that was cleared only as far as Martin MacDonald. He tried to play an ambitious pass to Wayne Mackintosh despite Duncan Jones being unmarked and only three yards away. Ross intercepted and played in Gordon, who broke up the park on the Locos' right hand side. With the Nairn defence all at sea, he squared the ball to Michie who calmly shrugged off the attentions of Brian Macleod and rounded Campbell before stroking home into the empty net.
Shotstopper Campbell prevented Nairn from going even further behind as the half progressed. Firstly, he denied Michie who had met a Singer cross from the right with a back post header that was palmed away by the County goalkeeper.
Then a minute later, Gordon's cut back from the left picked out the unmarked Ross who volleyed the ball into the ground and saw Campbell leap to his left to claw the ball away from the top corner at the expense of a corner.
The home side had one further chance to increase their lead. Michie chased a long and hopeful ball forward and managed to outmuscle Macleod. Campbell raced from his goal-line to clear the danger but could only kick the ball off the Locos striker before it drifted over the goalkeeper's head and wide the left hand upright.
|John Campbell (GK)||27||8||-||57||-|
|Marc MacDonald (sub)||20||4||-||18||-|
No league table has been added for this season.