2 - 0
2 - 0
Lewis Mackinnon (82)
Willie Barron (88)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Wayne Mackintosh for Gregg Main (58)
Glenn Main for Andrea Coletto (81)
Michael Ellis for Bradley Flannigan (46)
Lewis Corbett for Robert MacGillivray (77)
Gary Black (38)
Martin Godwin (42)
Kevin Ferguson (89)
Just when it looked as if rock-bottom Fort William were going to leave Station Park with an unlikely share of the points, Nairn County grabbed two late goals to edge out the plucky visitors and ensure that they picked up their first win since the start of November.
After suffering a long layoff due to frosty weather, Nairn finally got back to playing football but many fans must have wished at full time that this game had also been called off as County huffed and puffed their way to the three points. The home side must have had at least 80 percent of the play but poor finishing and so many slack passes contributed to a well-below par performance.
Nairn manager Les Fridge was again missing from the dugout due to suspension but managed to shock the County faithful by dropping the popular Wayne Mackintosh and bringing back Gary Black and Billy Horne, the latter playing in an unfamiliar role on the left of midfield. With Scott Graham and Steven Edwards also absent, Lewis MacKinnon took over up front while Brian Macleod came in at right back, allowed Stephen Skinner to resume his partnership in the middle alongside Martin MacDonald. Substitute goalkeeper John Campbell was injured in the warm up and was replaced on the bench by Callum Riddell.
After passing up several opportunities and being denied by some inspired goalkeeping from visiting shot stopper Garry McLeod, Nairn finally broke the deadlock eight minutes from time when Lewis MacKinnon netted on his first game at Station Park since returning to the club. And the former Buckie man then turned provider as Willie Barron was on hand to head home the Nairn number eight's cross six minutes later.
County started the game in the way the fans expected by virtually camping in the Fort half and launching attack-after-attack on McLeod's goal, the first of which saw a Barron shot on the turn well-held by the goalkeeper at his near post.
Good work by Macleod gave MacKinnon his first glimpse of goal but his shot was well blocked by the now hardworking Fort rearguard.
It looked like Nairn would take the lead on eight minutes when a good ball down the right fed MacKinnon. His square ball across the box was met first time by the on-running Shaun Kerr. But County's top scorer's sot was straight down the throat of visiting 'keeper McLeod who was in the right place at the right time, and not for the final time in the afternoon.
Kerr again had a sniff at goal in the 25th minute when a good ball was sent into his path by Gregg Main. But Nairn's number nine decided to take two touches instead of hitting it first time and the chance was gone.
Again McLeod's luck was in when a Barron corner was headed back into the mixer and met by Main. But his side-footed shot went straight into the arms of the Fort shot stopper.
Fort finally managed to get the ball into the Nairn box on 38 minutes and as it broke out, Andy Martin hit a 35-yard which was easily fielded by the now-spectating Callum Donaldson.
The visitors had weathered the Nairn storm by now though and were growing in confidence. And five minutes before half time, some fine play by Richard Finnis on the Nairn right led to the ball arriving at the feet of the on-running Robert McGillivray. But his shot went just wide of Donaldson's right-hand post with said 'keeper beaten.
The Nairn fans thought this was the wakeup call their team needed and on 41 minutes, a great turn and shot by MacKinnon looked to be heading for the bottom corner. But it curled slightly and came off the post and out to safety leaving the County supporters wondering if it was going to be one of those afternoons for their side.
The half time whistle was then met by cheers from the travelling Fort William supporters and boos from the County faithful.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first, with Nairn quick to attack. Some misplaced and weak passes never put Fort in much danger though.
A MacKinnon shot on the turn was well held by McLeod and when the Nairn front man was sent through on goal, the Fort goalkeeper did well to race out and block the soon-to-return-to-Oz striker's effort.
Nairn really should have taken the lead on 58 minutes though. Barron for once decided to take on his man and head for goal but his low shot was parried by McLeod. Amazingly though, Kerr put the loose ball over an open goal from all of six yards as it looked like it was going to be one of those days after all.
On 66 minutes, Nairn were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Fort box. With dead ball expert Duncan Jones no longer at the club, Horne took on the mantle. But his effort can only be described as pathetic at best as it was easily cleared by the Fort defence. Surely someone like Gary Black or Gregg Main must step up to the plate for future opportunities.
Nairn had a fantastic last-ditch Skinner tackle to thank for keeping them level four minutes later. MacGillivray found himself baring down on the Nairn goal with only Donaldson to beat. Fortunately for the home side though, Skinner slid in just as the Fort striker was about to pull the trigger and the chance was gone.
A ball into Kerr's feet then found the striker with his back to goal. He did well to shield it and lay it off to Black but again to the frustrations of the home fans, the former Forres man somehow managed to shoot over from eight yards when it looked easier to hit the target.
Nairn finally took the lead though on 82 minutes. A massive scramble in the Fort six-yard box which included at least 11 players saw the ball break to the unmarked Lewis MacKinnon. And he simply tapped home from no further than two yards out to the relief of the home fans, who by now thought a draw was on the cards, and at the time Fort would have been deserving of at least a share of the spoils.
County added to their tally two minutes from the end. A sweeping move saw MacKinnon float in a fine ball on to the head of the arriving Willie Barron. And the Nairn skipper netted a glancing header that gave McLeod no chance.
Indeed, MacKinnon may have added further to the score line but his grounder was well saved by McLeod.
It must have been a relieved Nairn team that heard the final whistle and a very disappointed Fort side. County must go on from here and look forward to upcoming games against lower opposition in the form of Lossiemouth and Brora Rangers. But they will have to play a lot better than this if they are to come away from those games with full points.
|Callum Donaldson (GK)||23||8||-||13||-|
|Glenn Main (sub)||23||8||-||38||-|
|Wayne Mackintosh (sub)||21||16||1||98||5|
No league table has been added for this season.