TWO clubs who saw their Scottish Cup aspirations ended last weekend meet at Harlaw Park as hosts Inverurie Locos and Nairn County return to Highland League action looking to immediately bounce back from the disappointment of exiting the national competition.
For Inverurie, it represents a chance to add to their three-game winning run in the league and they go into the clash knowing that three points will take them up to second place in the table if Fraserburgh are beaten at Formartine United and Brora Rangers lose away at Strathspey Thistle.
Neil Cooper’s men have been in impressive form this season, continuing on from their strong campaign last time out when they managed to secure a top four finish and qualification for the Irn Bru Challenge Cup. However, last Friday’s 4-3 reverse to Fraserburgh on home soil in the Scottish Cup will have hurt Locos and they will be eager to make up for that disappointment by adding another three points to their tally in this one.
Visitors Nairn went out of the Scottish Cup at home to West Region junior cracks Beith, with the visitors too physical and streetwise for County on the day as they advanced to take their place in round two of the competition. The Station Park side won their previous two league matches prior to that though, scoring 10 goals in the process and will look to convert that sort of form into an away result in this one having picked up just the one win on the road this season when they were 1-0 winners at Deveronvale way back on the second weekend of the campaign.
Updates from Harlaw Park will be available on the club’s social media channels by logging on to facebook.com/nairncountyfc or following @NairnCounty on Twitter, with team lines available before kick-off, coverage of all the talking points from the match as it happens, a report on the final whistle and reaction from the Nairn dressing room afterwards. A preview of the match is below:
Date: Saturday September 29th 2018
Competition: Scottish Highland Football League
Opponents: Inverurie Loco Works
Manager: Neil Cooper
Venue: Harlaw Park, Inverurie
Previous meeting: Inverurie Loco Works 4 Nairn County 1 March 24th 2018
Last time out: Inverurie Loco Works 3 Fraserburgh 4; Nairn County 1 Beith 3
League position: Inverurie Loco Works 4th Nairn County 13th
Form guides: Nairn County LDLWWL Inverurie Loco Works WLWWWL
Team news: Goalkeeper James Kendall is unavailable for this match with Dylan Maclean expected to return between the posts after a six-week injury layoff. He could be joined in the team by Fraser Dingwall, who is back from holiday having been away for last weekend’s Scottish Cup tie with Beith. Inaki Fernandino-Soto is available again having been back home in Spain and Tom Maclennan also returned to the squad last Saturday. Ewen Urquhart is still away, so he will miss out on this one while Gregg Main is injured having jarred his knee last weekend. Adam Naismith is also out because of an ankle problem while Danny Highet has work commitments. Jack Maclean came through his return to action for the under-20s unscathed last Saturday as he looks to make his first appearance since the away win at Deveronvale on August 4th.
One to watch: Neil Gauld. A prolific striker who is still going strong after many years in the Highland League, including spells with Huntly, his long and successful first period with Inverurie Locos, a few years with their rivals Formartine United and culminating in his return to Harlaw Park last summer. He certainly knows where the goal is and even when he was in and out of the team in his time at Formartine, he still popped up with numerous strikes for the Pitmedden-based club. That prompted Neil Cooper to take him back to Inverurie and make him the main man up top and that has proven to be a shrewd bit of business for the Garioch gaffer, with the striker finding the net more often than not when selected, including when these two clubs last met in March.
Match officials: Referee Mat Northcroft, Assistants Graeme Smith and Owen Lawrence.
Weather forecast: Sunny intervals 13 degrees 16 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).