ACTION returns for real after the summer lay-off and the phoney war of pre-season with Nairn County making the trip to Pitmedden and a meeting with one of the favourites to lift this season’s Scottish Highland League championship, Formartine United.
The preparation is now all complete with the players gaining six weeks of training under their belts along with five pre-season friendly fixtures as manager Ronnie Sharp looks for his players to build on the positives of the last campaign, when the squad achieved a top-half finish in the final Highland League table.
Formartine provide a formidable opponent though, with the Pitmedden side still on an impressive run of form, which took them to the end of last season earning them the runners up spot and scooping the Highland League (Morganti) Cup thanks to their final win over Fraserburgh. Paul Lawson’s men won an incredible 15 games on the spin to conclude their season and have not tasted defeat since they were narrowly beaten 3-2 by champions Cove Rangers on February 3rd, a match in which United were reduced to 10 men.
United finished 11 points off the pace last season but having dropped points early on in the campaign prior to the appointment of Lawson and his assistant, Russell Anderson, hopes will be high around North Lodge that they can emerge as a serious contender to push for promotion to League 2 throughout the course of this season.
If you cannot make it to Pitmedden for the match then you can follow updates from North Lodge through the official Nairn County social media channels. Team news will be available on facebook.com/nairncountyfc and @NairnCounty on Twitter ahead of kick-off with updates of all the major talking points as the match progresses. A report will then be available on the final whistle, with reaction from Nairn boss Ronnie Sharp online later in the evening. A preview of the match is below:
Date: Saturday July 28th 2018
Competition: Scottish Highland Football League
Opponents: Formartine United
Manager: Paul Lawson
Venue: North Lodge, Pitmedden
Previous meeting: Nairn County 1 Formartine United 2 March 17th 2018
Last time out: n/a
League position: n/a
Form guides: n/a
Team news: There are two absentees from Ronnie Sharp’s squad for this trip to Pitmedden – Ryan MacDonald is unavailable due to work commitments with Kenny McKenzie ruled out because of a family engagement. Jordan MacRae has been sold to Cove Rangers but summer signings James Kendall and Fraser Dingwall are both in contention to make their full debuts. Gregg Main is also set to return to competitive action for the first time since April 2017 following anterior cruciate ligament surgery and Cohen Ramsay is available again having missed last Saturday’s friendly at Stonehaven due to being on holiday.
One to watch: Graeme Rodger. An industrious midfielder and the beating heart of the Formartine team, the performance levels of the former Deveronvale man can sometimes go under the radar. The type of player who can always be relied upon to be at least a 7 or an 8 out of 10 week in, week out, he rarely misses a game for the red and whites despite strong competition for places in the middle of the park at North Lodge. Capable of chipping in with some vital goals for his team and putting in a defensive shift when required as well, he is the sort of player manager Paul Lawson knows he can count on to be at the forefront of the Formartine challenge this season.
Match officials: Referee Liam Duncan, Assistants Chris Phillips and Kyle Shepherd.
Weather forecast: Light rain showers and a moderate breeze 19 degrees 15 mph wind.
Admission prices: Adults £9 Concessions £5 (two children under the age of 14 are admitted for free if they are accompanied by a paying adult).