1 - 0
1 - 0
North of Scotland Cup (2nd Round)
Jonathan Holland (31)
John Beaton & Brian Wright
Chris Finnigan for Scott Graham (70)
Steven Edwards for Jonathan Holland (79)
Kevin Duguid for Kevin Collins (61)
Kenny Hendry for Jordan Main (67)
Ricky Wardrop for Iain Penwright (77)
Gregg Main (45)
Gary Black (57)
Ronnie Wright (Referee)
Nairn County will take on Rothes in two weeks with a place in the final of the North of Scotland Cup at stake after Les Fridge's men successfully negotiated their quarter final clash with Forres Mechanics.
It is a tie which will evoke dark memories among the County faithful of the last North Cup tie between the two sides at the same stage of the competition at Station Park in 2003 when The Speysiders defeated a Nairn side at the peak of their powers under then-manager Ronnie Sharp, despite the hosts creating literally dozens of scoring opportunities.
A goal from Johnathan Holland after half an hour was enough to settle this keenly-contested derby match as the man from Malta doubled his tally for the season to ensure Nairn's progress to a fourth North of Scotland Cup semi final under Fridge's stewardship.
The manager made one change to his line up after Saturday's unlucky Challenge Cup defeat to Cove Rangers by bringing in Neil MacDonald for the unavailable Duncan Jones. Meanwhile, Brian Macleod continued as captain in the absence of Willie Barron.
Within the first 10 minutes it was the returning MacDonald who was on the receiving end of some very harsh tackles by the Forres defence and it was to the annoyance of the home support that Neil Whyte was not at least cautioned for a scything tackle on the Nairn full back as he went on the attack. This was to set the trend for referee Ronnie Wright to let some wild challenges away with no more than a ticking off.
Forres looked to be the hungrier team in the first 20 minutes as they hassled the Nairn players in all areas of the pitch and came close when a Simon Allan free kick was hit with plenty of power but his accuracy was well off as the ball headed up the Cawdor Road.
Both sides seemed to be bogged down in midfield for the opening half an hour as neither goalkeeper was called into action.
This all changed though after 30 minutes when Johnathan Holland sent in a deep cross which eluded the Forres rearguard. It looked as if Shaun Kerr was going to add to his tally for the season when he sent a powerful header goalwards but Forres shot stopper Stuart Knight pulled off a great reflex save before the visiting defence managed to clear.
But the goalkeeper's luck was to run out a minute later. Again it was a diagonal that caught out the Forres defence. Kerr controlled the cross well and drove the ball across goal where an alert Holland had made a back post run and had to simple task of steering the ball into the waiting net to put Nairn in front.
Forres started the second half as they had the first by putting Nairn on the back foot but their attacking play was lacking a certain cutting edge as the home side looked more than comfortable with whatever the visitors could throw at them.
County could have doubled their lead when Macleod did well to keep possession and fired in a rasping shot but his effort was blocked by Nathan Sharp's outstretched leg.
Nairn's outstanding Neil MacDonald played a great ball down the line for Kerr to latch onto and as he drew the goalkeeper from his line, it looked as though the hosts were going to add to their single goal lead but County's number nine could only hit the side netting when he really should have scored.
Forres replaced Kevin Collins with Kevin Duguid just before the hour mark as they desperately tried to get back into the game before bringing on Kenny Hendry for Jordan Main. Nairn countered this by replacing Scott Graham with Chris Finnigan, a change which was met by disapproval of the County support as Graham looked to be having a fine game.
A speculative high ball into the Forres box by Martin MacDonald was only headed out as far as the advancing Macleod who pulled out a fine save from Knight as the former Deveronvale shot stopper dived full length to push the Nairn stand-in captain's effort round the post.
The hosts sent on Steven Edwards for goal hero Holland before Forres had one final chance to draw level and force a penalty shoot out. A David Calder shot was deflected high into the air and into the path of the onside and unmarked Hendry but from only eight yards out he fresh-aired his shot to the amusement of the Nairn fans.
This was the last action of the game from which Nairn must take a lot of credit for digging out a fine win over their near neighbours who many had tipped for the final.
County now advance to that Rothes semi final at Station Park where Fridge and his players have the opportunity to exorcise the ghost which has haunted the club for the last five years. One pleasant problem the Nairn manager now has is that Willie Barron and Duncan Jones still have to come back into the squad, but will they both be first picks or will Fridge stick with a winning team? If the said players do come back into the line up it will be harsh on those who wore the colours in this match but as they saying goes, "that's football".
|John Campbell (GK)||28||4||-||87||-|
|Steven Edwards (sub)||27||3||-||123||3|
|Chris Finnigan (sub)||22||2||-||25||3|
No league table has been added for this season.