1 - 2
1 - 2
Martin MacDonald (71)
Steven Cunningham (16)
Richard MacAdie (87)
Wayne Mackintosh for Marc MacDonald (18)
Nigel MacKenzie for David Cowie (71)
Martin Gunn for David Allan (71)
Wayne Mackintosh (35)
Shaun Kerr (74)
Shaun Sinclair (26)
Alex Lamb (74)
Wick Academy's chances of finishing in the top half of the Highland League received a huge boost as they defeated Nairn County at Station Park. Consequently, Nairn County's chances of claiming the top north spot took a massive dent.
Wick have now completed the league double over Nairn this season and are now sitting pretty in joint-third spot in the league table, a place County would dearly love to have. Les Fridge's men must now dust themselves down and prepare next Saturday's game at home to Huntly, a match they are more than capable of winning.
Fridge had Glenn Main back in his starting line up as he opted for a 3-5-2 formation after the win over Brora in midweek. With Callum Donaldson in goals, David Hind swept behind Martin MacDonald and Stephen Skinner. Marc MacDonald played on the left of midfield with Gregg Main and Brian Macleod in the middle and Glenn Main on the right. Willie Barron played just behind the strike pairing of Shaun Kerr and Lewis MacKinnon.
The visitors took the lead when Steven Cunningham capitalised on some slack defending to fire past Donaldson. Nairn levelled through Martin MacDonald in the second half as they took control of proceedings. But the home side could not convert their dominance into goals and were punished at the other end because it was Wick would were to have the last laugh. They hit County with a late sucker punch as Richard MacAdie netted a late winner to give the Caithness side their eighth successive league win.
This game was billed as a six-pointer so the fans that attending a sunny but windy Station Park had hoped to be in for a treat. But the game starter off very much like an end-of-season affair between two teams that wished it was holiday time. Neither side made much headway in the blustery conditions that blew in Nairn's favour.
It was Wick who carved open the first chance of the game on 16 minutes when a harmless looking cross from the left was allowed to run to the 18-yard line. And Steven Cunningham had the time to control the ball before shooting low past the diving Donaldson to give the visitors the lead.
Nairn's first effort on goal arrived two minutes later. But a looping MacKinnon header was easily gathered by Wick goalkeeper James More.
The home team were forced into an early change when the clearly unfit Marc MacDonald was replaced by the out-of-favour Wayne Mackintosh.
When Nairn were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal, set piece expert Gregg Main stepped up. But his well hit effort was saved at full-length by the diving More.
County were starting to put the visitors under pressure. But so many times the killer ball was missing and the attacks petered out.
A Martin MacDonald header from a Barron corner was tipped over the bar by More as Nairn searched for an equaliser.
The hosts continued to create chances and were getting a bit of luck with their direct approach whereas Wick were happy to keep the ball on the deck as they tried to draw out the stubborn Nairn defence.
Academy defender Shaun Sinclair was close to putting through his own net just before half time as he headed a Gregg Main cross inches past the post.
Wick were first out of the blocks in the second half and David Cowie was unlucky when he beat his man on the edge of the area. But Brian Macleod was in the right place to divert the Wick player's goalbound effort behind for a corner.
A mix-up in the Wick box between More and defender Alex Lamb on 48 minutes let in MacKinnon. The former Inverness CT youth could not get the ball under control though and it rolled harmlessly behind for a by-kick.
Nairn now looked well up for the fight and only a great clearing tackle by Sinclair saved the day for the visitors as Gregg Main weaved his way into the area.
But as the Nairn forwards began to give the visitors problems, it was goalkeeper Donaldson who almost gave the home fans a heart attack when he left his box to try and win the ball from Cowie on the left. But the Wick forward out-thought the shot stopper, as he turned inside and sent a clever shot goalwards only for Martin MacDonald to be on hand to head clear for a corner at the back post. There was no doubt it was a let off for the home team as they continued to pile forward in search of a leveller.
And they should have got it on 56 minutes when another mix-up between More and his defence let MacKinnon in. But again the centre forward couldn't get the ball under control on the hard surface as it bounced over his leg and was scooped up by the grateful goalkeeper.
A great Barron corner was met by the head of MacDonald minutes later. He sent his effort looping across goal but agonisingly for the home side, it was just too high for MacKinnon get on the end of.
Nairn captain Barron was starting to run the show and showed great skill to beat two defenders before laying the ball on the plate for the on-running Glenn Main. March's goal hero blasted high and over though as he wasted County's best chance of the game so far.
The home side continued to dominate proceedings and a powerful shot by MacKinnon was touched past the post by More.
And Nairn nearly equaliser from the following corner when Kerr's shot was spilled by More but Nairn's players were slow to react and the ball was thumped out of the ground by a Wick defender.
But it was from the next corner that County finally found their deserved leveller on 71 minutes. Another good delivery from the boot of Barron was met by MacKinnon. His downward header was pushed away to the edge of the area by More where Martin MacDonald showed a calm head as he controlled the ball and simply passed it through a ruck of players.
County were running the game by now and had Wick pinned back for long spell. Fridge's men were unlucky not to go in front when a cross-come-shot beat everyone but bounced back off the face of the bar and into the arms of More as luck in front of goal continued to evade the hosts.
Barron had the chance to be a local hero on 79 minutes when a great ball into the box by Gregg Main found its way through to the on-running County skipper. He mis-hit his shot though as the ball connected with his shin and went wide of the target from just five yards.
By now Wick had weathered the Nairn storm and found a second wind as they started to find their way out of their own half.
County were given a warning of what was to come on 85 minutes when a great cross from substitute Nigel Mackenzie was headed over Donaldson by Gary Weir. Brian Macleod was in the right place on the line though to head clear.
The Nairn defence were looking nervous though and they were severely punished as the visitors nicked all three points to minutes from time. MacDonald was caught in possession as he tried to stroll out of defence. The ball broke to Richard MacAdie who did well to beat Skinner before drawing Donaldson from his line and slotting the ball into the net to grab all three points for the Caithness club.
|Callum Donaldson (GK)||24||20||-||25||-|
|Wayne Mackintosh (sub)||21||28||2||110||6|
No league table has been added for this season.