5 - 0
5 - 0
North of Scotland Cup (Semi Final)
Shaun Kerr (3)
Shaun Kerr (28)
Duncan Jones (33)
Shaun Kerr (73)
Duncan Jones for Jonathan Holland (32)
Steven Edwards for Gary Black (70)
Chris Finnigan for Shaun Kerr (76)
Graeme Bain for Paul McDonald (52)
Mark Dougal for Ross Duncan (61)
Mike Smith for Kris Duncan (61)
Ronnie Wright (Referee)
All eyes will be on the North of Scotland FA meeting on Thursday as they set a date for their cup final which will be contested between Nairn County and Inverness CT after Les Fridge's men breezed past Rothes in the semi final to book their place in a third final in just four years. The two dates set aside for the final are Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 September and in the past the North FA authorities have caved into pressure from league clubs and crushed the dreams of the County fans eager for a Saturday out by playing the final on a Sunday. But it is believed that Nairn have made their position clear regarding their unrelenting desire to play the match on a Saturday after the success of the 2005 final against Forres Mechanics.
Tonight though Rothes were simply brushed aside by a classy Nairn performance as the team gave their manager the perfect 40th birthday present at a very wet Station Park. It was the first semi final to be played at the ground since Rothes' shock 1-0 at the same stage of the same competition in 2002. But their was to be no repeat of that disaster as County well and truly exorcised that ghost on a night of pure joy for the home support.
Referee Ronnie Wright must have been in a hurry to get home as the match started three minutes early but the Nairn team were in even more of a rush to get this semi final tie done and dusted as they were out of the traps like a greyhound after the hare. And by 7.30 the home side took their first steps towards putting this tie to bed as Shaun Kerr eased the tension inside Station Park by opening the scoring. A long ball out of defence by Martin MacDonald sent the striker on his way and after out muscling Michael Dunn, he promptly slotted past visiting goalkeeper Craig Masterton.
And Kerr should have doubled his tally seconds after the restart when again he was allowed to run free but this time his shot cannoned off of the sprawling shot stopper.
Rothes were stunned into action and tried desperately to put the Nairn defence under some kind of pressure. They forced a corner in the seventh minute which was delivered onto the head of Iain Macrae and he really should have levelled things but he sent his powerful header over John Campbell's crossbar.
This was the only attack Rothes could muster in the first half as the eager Nairn team laid siege on the Speysiders' goal.
And the hosts had done their homework on a very shaky Rothes rearguard as the long diagonal ball to Scott Graham was beginning to pay off. The former Fort William man chased after what seemed a lost cause and despite slipping over when reaching the ball, he was still able to beat Nairn flop Paul McDonald easily before sending the perfect pass into the path of the on running Johnathan Holland who sent the ball past Masterton to maintain his record of scoring in every round of the competition.
Nairn were now in full flow and a slick move involving Main and Holland saw the Maltese internationalist cheekily back heel the ball to Kerr who brought out a fine stop from Masterton with his first time shot.
It was only going to be a matter of time before Nairn inflicted more pain on their hapless visitors and after 28 minutes Gregg Main sent a high ball harmlessly into the box only to see Masterton fumble it straight out to the grateful Kerr who was left with the simple task of prodding home to put Nairn three up.
County were dealt a blow when the effective Holland picked up a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Duncan Jones. But the former Don was no sooner on the pitch when he added his name to the score sheet. After the visitors' McDonald and Dunn had displayed some Chuckle Brothers defending (to me, to you), the ball bounced off the latter's leg to Main who sent Jones in on goal. Unlike his Dad's Army namesake, the Nairn sub didn't panic as he delighted the home fans by rifling the ball into the roof of the net.
Rothes were now down and out and were booed off at half time by their sizeable support.
The second half had the feeling about it that Rothes were out to salvage some pride and Nairn were stepping down a couple of gears although it would have taken a complete engine failure for the visitors to get back into the cup tie. They did come out and have a go but never really tested Campbell in the Nairn goal. In fact it was the hosts who almost scored again when Graham saw his angled drive turned past the post by Masterton.
Gregg Main then showed what a great striker of a ball he is when he sent a rasping half volley inches wide of the Rothes goal.
The Speysiders were then denied what looked to be a stonewall penalty when Macrae's shot struck the arm of MacDonald in the box. To the fury of the away bench, referee Wright signalled for a corner and even after consulting with the far side assistant - who believed it was a penalty - refused to change his mind. To be honest it was a shocking decision and did nothing to help the flack that officials are currently receiving.
This appeared to knock the stuffing well and truly out of Rothes as they appeared to give up hope of even getting on the score sheet.
And in the 73rd minute, the goal of the game arrived. Main seemed to be going nowhere in the middle of the park when he changed direction, fooling two Rothes players and sending an inch perfect pass to Jones on the right. He in turn sent in a speedy cross which was met first time by man of the match Shaun Kerr who fired it into the roof of the net leaving the visiting defence and goalkeeper flat-footed to complete his first ever hat trick for the club. A goal worthy of winning any final, never mind being the fifth in a semi final and a fitting way to end a memorable night at Station Park.
Match report written by Graeme Macleod
|John Campbell (GK)||28||6||-||89||-|
|Steven Edwards (sub)||27||5||-||125||3|
|Duncan Jones (sub)||24||5||1||91||18|
|Chris Finnigan (sub)||22||4||-||27||3|
No league table has been added for this season.