THE waiting is almost over and the season is about to start with well-fancied Brora Rangers making the trip to Station Park in what will be Ronnie Sharp and Grant Munro's first competitive game in charge of their new sides.
The fortunes of the two clubs over the summer months could not have been more contrasting with financial constraints seeing Nairn lose 13 players and Sharp having just over a fortnight to work with his squad whereas Munro stepped up from player to a brief stint as assistant manager before taking over from boss Stuart Golabek, who had to step down from the role through work commitments despite not managing the Cattachs for a single game.
Munro has also started to bring in his own players to the club with a number of quality additions, including midfielder Alan Pollock who made the switch from Station Park just last week. He joins a clutch of former County players at Dudgeon Park, including Steven Mackay, Dale Gillespie, Craig Campbell and Scott Houston. A full preview of the match is below.
Date: Saturday July 30th 2016
Competition: Scottish Highland Football League Championship
Opponents: Brora Rangers
Manager: Grant Munro
Venue: Station Park, Nairn
Previous meeting: Brora Rangers 1 Nairn County 2, January 2nd 2016
Last time out: n/a
League position: n/a
Form guides: n/a
Team news: New boss Ronnie Sharp will have to do without the services of key midfield duo Wayne Mackintosh and Gregg Main for this season-opener against one of the title favourites through holidays and an ankle injury respectively. Kenny McKenzie has also been ruled out with a knee injury. New signings Calum Riddell and Gary Kerr are in the squad though and are expected to make their debuts. Youngsters Callum Ednie, Jack Maclean and Ryan Macleod have been involved in training with the first team squad over the last few weeks while Matty Macleod's brace for the under-20s in midweek will have propelled him into Sharp's thoughts. Trialists Jamie Mackay, Willie Barron and Marc Macdonald all trained with the squad this week and may play a part.
One to watch: Craig Campbell. The former County striker has had an impressive start to his second stint at Dudgeon Park. He left Nairn to spend a season with Alloa Athletic, where he won SPFL League Two before a short spell with Brora. After some time out of the game and regaining his fitness in the North Caledonian League ranks with Invergordon, he is back on the Highland League stage and has hit the ground running at Dudgeon Park. County defenders Glenn Main and Paul Macleod will know all about his threat having played alongside Campbell during his two years starring in a County shirt, during which the club lifted the 2011 Highland League (Morganti) Cup with Campbell firing six goals in three appearances in the competition that season.
Match officials: Referee Graham Beaton Assistants Frazer Bushell and Barry Stuart
Weather forecast: Light cloud 18 degrees 5 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).