4 - 1
Mark Chisholm (19)
Mark Cowie (?)
Scott Fraser (54)
Grant Noble (58)
Brian Macleod (52)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Allan Stephen for Graeme Watt (46)
Gary Clark for Mark Cowie (77)
Neil MacDonald for Billy Horne (46)
Willie Barron for Scott Graham (60)
Glenn Main for Gary Black (85)
Stephen Skinner (83)
Gary Black (83)
Two goals either side of half time gave Nairn County a demostration of the chasm that exists between the clubs in the north and the Aberdeenshire sides.
It was a cruel lesson for Les Fridge's side who looked well up for the clash from the off. But Deveronvale's superior ability to take chances when they arose and cash in on any opposition mistakes was the difference as they retained their spot at the summit of the Highland League.
County boss Fridge made three changes to his starting eleven. Top scorer Shaun Kerr made a shock return to the attack in place of Chris Finnigan while Martin MacDonald was restored to the heart of the defence with Gary Black moved to right back and Neil MacDonald on the bench. The final change was enforced as Gregg Main was ruled out through suspension after being sent off in Nairn's last league outing - the 2-1 home win over Keith - and was replaced in midfield by Wayne Mackintosh. There was also a seat on the bench for Andrea Coletto who replaced Darren Jarvie.
The home side broke the deadlock after County had passed up several chances to go in front as Mark Chisholm was on hand to apply the finish after a rare John Campbell error. Vale doubled their lead on the stroke of half time through Mark Cowie but Brian Macleod halved the deficit for the visitors shortly after the restart. Any thoughts of a Nairn comeback were quickly quashed though as Deveronvale re-established their two-goal lead only two minutes later when Scott Fraser netted. And the hosts rounded off a good day at the office when Grant Noble added the fourth.
County made the better start and came close to breaking the deadlock through Scott Graham after only two minutes. Brian Macleod picked out the former Fort William forward with a pin point cross from the left but the County man's header from six yards flew just wide of goal.
A minute later, Graham went close for Nairn again when his 12-yard header from a Duncan Jones corner seemed destined for the top corner until it was headed clear by the man on the goal line Steve Dolan.
Next it was the returning Kerr who went close for the visitors when Black surged down the right and swung in a cross which found the head of County's number nine but his effort went straight into the arms of Jamie Blanchard.
Deveronvale finally came into the game as an attacking force after 15 minutes when Grant Noble's ball in from the right edge of the box flashed across the face of goal but with no takers in the middle, the cross drifted to safety.
Four minutes later though the home side made Nairn pay for their missed chances by grabbing the opener. A Bryan Dlugonski free kick from just inside the County half seemed like a bread and butter catch for Nairn goalkeeper Campbell. But the shot stopper - who is having another fine season - dropped the ball at the feet of Chisholm who knocked home from a couple of yards to break the deadlock.
County were determined to get back on level terms as Jones raced down the right and played in a cross which Kerr again won in the air but this time his header was off target.
Vale almost doubled their lead four minutes after the half-hour when Cowie's cut back found Robbie Duncanson at the edge of the box. The former Nairn striker worked the space 18 yards from goal but his shot flew just wide of goal.
The home side did snatch a decisive second goal before the interval to leave County with a second half mountain to climb. Nairn failed to clear their lines from a Vale corner and when Noble's cross was knocked down to the feet of Cowie, the former Fraserburgh midfield lashed his side into a two-goal lead.
County grabbed a lifeline seven minutes into the second half as they went from on end of the park to the other to half the deficit. Jones headed a Chisholm effort off the line from a Vale corner before racing up the the right wing and collecting the ball out of defence as Nairn countered. The former Aberdeen midfield then laid the ball on for Brian Macleod who found the net as the same combination who teamed up for the second goal in the North of Scotland final win proved fruitful again.
Nairn's joy was short lived though as Deveronvale restored their two-goal lead only two minutes later. A free kick from 30 yards out found Allan Stephen on the penalty spot but the former Rothes defender was denied by an excellent Campbell save. But the County defence were second to react to the loose ball as Scott Fraser was on hand to apply the finish for the Vale's third of the day.
The roof threatened to cave in for Nairn when Deveronvale added a fourth in the 58th minute. Neil MacDonald lost the ball to Paul Urquhart in the middle of the park who in turn fed Noble. He took on the shot early from the edge of the box and despite Campbell getting a hand to it, the effort had enough power in it to trickle into the net.
County continued to push forward though and created several half chances with Kerr going closest to netting a second Nairn goal.
Only a finger tip save denied Duncanson a goal against his former club after 66 minutes when he tipped the Vale forward's 18-yard effort over the crossbar.
Campbell again kept the score at four in injury time when he blocked a Noble effort with his legs after the Vale goal scorer had been picked out by a Duncanson pass.
|John Campbell (GK)||28||12||-||95||-|
|Neil MacDonald (sub)||22||8||-||45||-|
|Glenn Main (sub)||23||2||-||32||-|
|Willie Barron (sub)||27||6||1||189||48|
No league table has been added for this season.