TODAY’S Highland League (Morganti) Cup quarter final tie was a game Nairn County threw away in the eyes of manager Ronnie Sharp, who saw his side succumb to a 4-3 defeat having led the match 2-1.
Paul Campbell’s early strike but Fraserburgh in front but Dylan Mackenzie raced in to net a quick-fire leveller for County. Kenny McKenzie then put Nairn in front but barely a minute later, Greg Buchan pounced to level for the Broch before Paul Young rolled home to put the visitors back in front.
A disputed penalty kick – that Sharp felt should not have been awarded – was stuck away by Gary Harris to put Fraserburgh 4-2 up and ultimately turned out to be the winning goal after Max Ewan had headed home to pull it back to 4-3.
“It was a game we gave away,” Sharp exclaimed. “We were 2-1 up and lost a goal within a minute and that was very poor play from us. It was a poor back pass that set the whole thing up and caused us all sorts of problem. It then took us 20 minutes to get over that and by that time we were 4-2 down. We were not strong enough mentally and too naïve at times.
“It does not matter how old you or are how young you are, you need to drive yourself through the tough parts of games and make brave decisions but we do not seen to do that – we seem to go into our shells too much and that is the problem at the moment. We have done that a few times this year and seem to accept what happens.”
Campbell too just three minutes to put Fraserburgh in front and Sharp was disappointed at the nature of the opener having warned his players about the Broch’s set piece prowess.
He said: “We were not switched on again but it was another foul we gave away that we did not need to. We did that for a lot of the game even though we had said that we could not afford to give away free kicks against this team or they will punish us. We kept doing that but when we got back to 1-1, we did not give too many free kicks away. But as soon as it went 2-2, we started it again and it was just poor play all round from us.”
Dylan Mackenzie took just five minutes to race in and equalise for County after good play from Ewen Urquhart allowed him to send Kenny McKenzie racing forward before he slipped in Nairn’s young striker.
“It was well-worked between Ewen, Kenny and Dylan before an excellent finish,” said Sharp. “After that, I thought the game was pretty even and then it was another good finish from Kenny to put us 2-1 up. But within a minute, Fraserburgh were level again and that is just not acceptable.
“We then found ourselves 4-2 down but we got a goal back and we finished the game strongly but I think it is a game we gave away.”
Sharp felt that the penalty kick which won the tie for Fraserburgh should not have been awarded. Willie West got a clean shot away that flew past the post before kicking the outstretched leg of Kenny McKenzie – who was attempting to make a block – and injuring himself in the process.
Sharp gave his view of the incident as he said: “The player (West) had his shot and Kenny tried to block it. The player then kicked into Kenny with his follow through and the penalty was given. We did not think it was a penalty and nobody else seemed to think it was a penalty.”
Nairn now have 11 league fixtures to fit into the next five weeks with a deadline of April 14th to have the Highland League championship concluded. They are back in action with a trip to Fort William on Wednesday night.
“We look like we are going to play Wednesday and Saturday most weeks now,” explained Sharp. “We will get a couple of players back in with Jordan MacRae and Tom Maclennan available again. We will look to make a few changes and we need to pick ourselves up. But we need to be stronger mentally on the football park more than anything.”