THE red-hot Railwaymen of Inverurie lie in store for Nairn County this weekend with the visitors looking to become only the second team to win on Inverurie’s home patch on league business this season.
Only champions-elect Cove Rangers have managed to get the better of Neil Cooper’s men at Harlaw Park this season with a narrow 2-1 victory back in August with the Locos netting 29 times in six games since the turn of the year. That run of form has contributed to Locos being best-placed to capitalise on any capitulation by table-toppers Cove as the Highland League season approaches the home straight over the next month.
Inverurie currently sit in second place, three points off the top but their tenants and championship favourites Cove have four games in hand but anything is possible and the Locos will be aiming for a positive end to the season as they look to stave of the threat of Fraserburgh in the dual to finish as runners up.
Second spot would be a huge improvement for Cooper having taken over at Harlaw Park halfway through last season and seeing his side finish ninth. It has been more evolution than revolution for the former Forfar Athletic boss and Aberdeen youth coach as he has slowly but surely added quality additions to his squad during his time at the helm, resisting the urge for a full-scale overhaul of his playing staff in the summer.
Nairn’s narrow defeat to Formartine United last Saturday saw them slip back behind Deveronvale in the league table following the Banffers’ midweek home win over Lossiemouth. Ronnie Sharp’s side are now set to embark upon a punishing run of fixtures with games on every Saturday and Wednesday for the next four weeks as they work their way through the backlog of weather-enforced postponements.
There will be live updates from this match on the club’s official social media channels, so if you cannot make it along to support the team you can always follow the action on facebook.com/nairncountyfc and @NairnCounty on Twitter, where you will find team lines before kick-off, coverage of all the major talking points as the action progresses, a report on the match just after the final whistle has blown and reaction from the Nairn camp later in the evening. Do not you can follow the club on Instagram for everything behind-the-scenes at Station Park. A preview of tomorrow’s match is below:
Date: Saturday March 24th 2018
Competition: Scottish Highland Football League
Opponents: Inverurie Loco Works
Manager: Neil Cooper
Venue: Harlaw Park, Inverurie
Previous meeting: Nairn County 2 Inverurie Loco Works 3 October 28th 2017
Last time out: Inverurie Locos 9 Lossiemouth 1; Nairn County 1 Formartine United 2
League position: Nairn County 10th Formartine United 4th
Form guides: Inverurie Loco Works DWWWWW Nairn County WWLLWL
Team news: Callum Maclean is available again for Nairn County after missing last weekend’s home match against Formartine United but Dylan Mackenzie may still be available due to the lip injury he sustained at Fort William last midweek. Young goalkeeper Fraser Wilkie is ruled out by a thigh strain but his fellow shot stopper Dylan Maclean should be fit enough to return to the squad. Max Ewan is struggling due to a hamstring injury and Callum Ednie is ruled out by a similar injury, although he returned to full training this week, as did Jack Maclean after recovering from a calf strain. Gregg Main stepped up his rehabilitation from anterior cruciate ligament surgery last week by beginning some light training and Inaki Fernandino-Soto is another likely to miss out as he still has a groin injury. Craig Munro and Matty Macleod continue their loans at Inverness City while Cameron Maclean, Joe Cuthbert and four-goal Seamus McConaghy have been called up for this match following impressive performances for the under-20s in their 6-0 win at Forres Mechanics on Monday.
One to watch: Andy Hunter. The big centre forward bagged four goals in last weekend’s 9-1 battering of Lossiemouth to make it seven goals in a week and he will be on the hunt for more on this one as Inverurie close in on a century of Highland League goals for the first time in their history. Hunter provides the focal point for the free-flowing Locos attack with the likes of Joe McCabe, Jordan Leyden, Chris Angus, Neil McLean and strike partner Neil Gauld among his supporting cast. Hunter is a man bang in form right now and high in confidence as Locos look to keep their winning run going to keep Cove Rangers honest at the top of the Highland League table and continue Neil Cooper’s quest for the runners up spot in his first full season in the Harlaw Park hot seat.
Match officials: Referee Filippo Mazzoni, Assistants Andy Milne and Scott Donohoe.
Weather forecast: Sunny intervals and breezy 10 degrees 12 mph wind.
Admission prices: Adults £8 Concessions £5 (two children under the age of 14 are admitted for free if they are accompanied by a paying adult).