DELIGHTED Nairn County manager Ronnie Sharp praised the character of his players as they secured a 3-2 away win at Highland League champions, Buckie Thistle thanks to a last-gasp winner.
Nairn were never behind after Jordan MacRae netted an early penalty, which was cancelled by Chris Angus early on in the second half.
Jack Maclean put County back in front soon after but when Angus struck again for the hosts, it looked like Nairn would have to settle for a share of the spoils.
That was until young sub Max Ewan popped up in injury time to convert Ewen Urquhart’s low cross from the left and bag all three points for the visitors.
Sharp said: “From the first minute, we were good. We played at a high tempo and with energy and we were the better team in the first half, creating the better chances.
“We were 1-0 up at half time but I thought we should have had two or three. We missed good chances through Kenny McKenzie and Dylan Mackenzie when you are hoping they would score.
“We had more chances at the start of the second half as well and should have scored another one. We knew fine that Buckie are a quality team and that they would keep coming at us and they equalised but we showed great character to then go 2-1 up.
“The good thing is, when Buckie pegged us back we just kept going. We went 2-1 up and then back to 2-2 but we still went looking for the winner.”
MacRae’s opener came from the penalty spot on 11 minutes after some great build-up play involving Kenny McKenzie and Jack Maclean.
“It is something we have been working on in training,” Sharp revealed. “We want to get the boys to the edge of the box and then have late runners in. It was a shot on target that hit the hand and Jordan put the penalty away well. It was a well-worked move.”
He added: “The second goal was another good move, this time down the left with Jack Maclean arriving late in the box, which was great to see as he had the energy to get forward from his own half to be in a position to score the goal.”
Goalkeeper Stephen Foster made an impressive save from Angus just before the interval to ensure that County went in front at the break. The on-loan stopper also played a part in Ewan’s injury time winner.
Sharp said: “Stephen was out quickly for the save and closed the distance. It was a tremendous block and he had another excellent save just before that, which you would expect him to make but the block was tremendous.
“He then played a ball over the full back’s head for Ewen Urquhart for the third goal and the good thing is, he showed great energy to drive into the box with it and took the boy on. He got to the by-line and cut it back and it was great to see young Max in the danger area to prod it home.
“Max is a talented footballer and we are going to use him this season. Age is not a barrier here – if you are good enough, you are going to get chances. It was great to see him score the winner with his first goal in the Highland League at 16 years old. I thought it was tremendous.”