1 - 3
|Russell Guild (66)||
Brian Macleod (12)
Gary Black (55)
Gregg Main (71)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Michele Lombardi for Kevin Lonie (62)
Michael Ewen for Scott Garrett (86)
Glenn Main for Billy Horne (64)
Andrea Coletto for Scott Graham (86)
Harry Rae for Wayne Mackintosh (89)
Neil Reid (30)
Ross McKenzie (66)
Callum Donaldson (48)
Stephen Skinner (51)
Nairn County got back to winning ways with a tireless, energetic display at Christie Park to take all three points and go level with hosts Huntly in the Highland League table. It was the first victory for Les Fridge's men since claiming the North of Scotland Cup in September.
The County faithful have not seen their team play at home for almost two months and in that time, they have had to incur the considerable costs of lengthy trips to the likes of Edinburgh and Fraserburgh. But that did not deter the fans who turned out in force to vocally back their side to this win.
Huntly could not live with County's boundless energy and vigour as the visitors controlled this high-tempo affair from the off, stamping their authority on the game with goals in the opening quarter-hour of each half. Willie Barron and Scott Graham struck up an instant bond in attack as Huntly's decision to play three at the back played into the hands of the Nairn front two, whose running dragged the beleaguered centre halves out of position all day long. That left gaps at the back which were exploited on several occasions by Gregg Main bursting from midfield while Duncan Jones and Brian Macleod were a constant menace out on the flanks.
Fridge made two changes to the team which lost at Fraserburgh a fortnight ago. Callum Donaldson came in to replace the injured John Campbell in goals and with Shaun Kerr suspended, Wayne Mackintosh was handed a start in midfield as Barron was pushed forward.
County broke the deadlock after 12 minutes when Brian Macleod drilled home before doubling their lead ten minutes into the second half through Gary Black. The hosts looked to have got themselves back into the game when Russell Guild halved the deficit in the 66th minute. But it proved only to be a quantum of solace as the impressive Gregg Main wrapped up the points with Nairn's third only four minutes later.
County won a few early free kicks in promising positions as they signalled their intentions from the off. Huntly appeared to be coming more into the contest as time wore on but it was Nairn who broke the deadlock with 12 minutes on the clock. Billy Horne picked out Brian Macleod in space on the left edge of the penalty box. The Nairn vice-captain cut inside one challenge before pinging a low, left-footed drive across Huntly goalkeeper Ross Bremner and into the far corner of the net.
A poor kick from Donaldson almost gifted the hosts a leveller six minutes later. The Nairn goalkeeper made a hash of taking a free kick, playing the ball straight to Richard Craig. The former Keith and Inverurie man raced forward but his poor effort allowed Donaldson to make amends for his howler.
Good passing build up on Huntly's right carved open the otherwise resolute Nairn defence as the ball eventually found itself squared to the unmarked Scott Garrett. But from 12 yards out, the young striker placed his shot over the crossbar when he should have at least tested Donaldson.
Huntly were beginning to come more and more into the game and only a superb sliding tackle from goal scorer Macleod kept Nairn in front in the 24th minute. Russell Guild raced into the box and just as he was about to pull the trigger, Macleod appeared from nowhere to slide in and nick the ball off the Huntly midfielder's toes.
The home side were the width of the post away from equalising three minutes after the restart. Donaldson raced from his goal to clatter into Craig outside the penalty area, conceding a free kick. The dead ball was rolled by Stuart Soane into the path of Michael Morrison but his low drive from 20 yards was tipped onto the post by Donaldson.
County grabbed the crucial second goal 10 minutes after the restart to leave the home side with a mountain to climb. Gary Black set off on a mazy run up the right wing before cutting inside attempted challenges from the hapless Ross McKenzie and Neil Reid before drilling an angled drive from 15 yards across Bremner and into the net to score his third goal of the season.
And County thought they had added a third two minutes later. Horne scooped the ball across goal from the back post to Martin MacDonald after collecting a cross in from the left and the Nairn centre back headed home. But the far side linesman flagged for offside.
Huntly needed a goal soon if they were to get back into the game but Reid fired well over from 25 yards on the hour mark with a first time shot after receiving a pass from the left.
Midfielder Mark Gray's shooting was more accurate four minutes later as the woodwork again came to Nairn's rescue. The Huntly workhorse let fly with a volley from 22 yards but his effort hit the crossbar on its way over.
In the 66th minute, the home side eventually found a way past Donaldson. Some neat passing build up saw Russell Guild play a one-two with Soane, who squared the ball into the path of his on-running teammate who showed composure to place the ball home from 15 yards.
But any hopes Huntly had of mounting a comeback were extinguished only four minutes later as County seized back the momentum with a third goal. Graham fired in a low cross from the left and with neither goalkeeper nor defenders taking on the responsibility to clear it, Gregg Main was left to race onto the ball and smash it beyond Bremner with a first time shot from eight yards.
County were well on top by this stage and could have added a fourth 10 minutes from time. Jones's cross from the right picked out Graham who tried to flick the ball over Bremner from close range but the goalkeeper managed to make the save.
And less than 60 seconds later, substitute Glenn Main intercepted a sloppy pass out of defence before racing in on goal. But the front man was denied a first Nairn goal as Bremner had come off his line and blocked the ex-St Ninian forward's effort from the edge of the box with his legs.
Then in the 83rd minute, it should have been four. Jones skinned Huntly defender Michael Morrison with some sublime skill on the right before racing forward and squaring the ball into the box for the unmarked Graham. The former Fort William striker side-footed his shot from 10 yards off the far post though with Bremner left rooted to the spot.
Huntly attempted a late rally with their final chance coming six minutes from time when Craig's header from a cross in from the left went wide at the back post as Nairn claimed a deserved three points.
|Callum Donaldson (GK)||23||2||-||7||-|
|Glenn Main (sub)||23||4||-||34||-|
|Harry Rae (sub)||23||2||-||2||-|
|Andrea Coletto (sub)||24||2||-||16||-|
No league table has been added for this season.