A SHORT notice, midweek Highland League fixture is on the cards for Nairn County this Wednesday night with the club only being informed a week-and-a-half previously that reigning champions Cove Rangers would visit Station Park.
That meant players who had scheduled work commitments and holiday plans based on the reasonable assumption that this midweek would be a free date had no opportunity to rearrange and with no match at the weekend, the management team have not had a chance to get any game time into the legs of their potential replacements.
Nevertheless, Nairn go into the match looking to make it two victories over Cove Rangers in a row having defeated a much-changed Cove line-up when the two clubs met at the end of last season. Indeed, only three of boss John Sheran’s squad that night are likely to be involved in this one. But Nairn are likely to have a similar number of absentees from the pool they took into that match but for completely different reasons – only six of Ronnie Sharp’s 18-man squad from that night are 100 percent fit and available, emphasising the selection problems facing the hosts going into this match.
You can follow the action from Station Park in this one through the club’s official social media channels. Simply logon to facebook.com/nairncountyfc or follow @NairnCounty on Twitter for team line-ups before kick-off, updates on all the major talking points from the match as it progresses, a report on the final whistle and reaction from the County camp. Meanwhile, a preview is below:
Date: Wednesday November 21st 2018
Competition: Highland League (Morganti) Cup
Opponents: Cove Rangers
Manager: John Sheran
Venue: Station Park, Nairn
Previous meeting: Cove Rangers 0 Nairn County 3 April 24th 2018
Last time out: Cove Rangers 8 Turriff United 0; Lossiemouth 0 Nairn County 5
League position: Nairn County 11th Cove Rangers 1st
Form guides: Nairn County DWLLLW Cove Rangers LWWLWW
Team news: Ronnie Sharp has been dealt a blow ahead of the visit of league champions Cove Rangers with top scorer Dylan Mackenzie likely to be on the sidelines with a knee injury he sustained in training just as he was coming into form having notched a hat-trick in the 5-0 thumping of Lossiemouth in County’s last outing. He could be joined by up to nine teammates with Tom Maclennan and Gregg Main still injured while Fraser Dingwall has college commitments in Glasgow and Kenny McKenzie is on holiday. Added to that, there are doubts surrounding the involvement of midfield trio Ewen Urquhart, Cohen Ramsay and Joe Cuthbert who have both been ill lately while young attacker Seamus McConaghy suffered a groin strain in training at the weekend and is also a doubt. Jack Maclean has work commitments in Wick and may not have enough to travel back to play but Ryan MacDonald returns to the squad having missed the last three matches because of overseas work commitments.
One to watch: Jordan MacRae. Needs no introduction. Ended last season as County’s top scorer with 23 goals from 38 starts having netted eight times in 36 appearances during his breakthrough year the previous season. Those levels of performance attracted the attentions of the Highland League champions and a summer transfer to Balmoral Park followed. He has already started to pay back his transfer fee by making a match-clinching impact from the bench in the final of the Aberdeenshire Cup against Banks O’Dee to secure his first winners’ medal in senior football and warmed up for his Station Park return by grabbing a double in Cove’s 8-0 rout of Turriff United. Quick, strong and powerful with an eye for goal, the 20-year-old will be handful for the home defence but he is assured of a warm reception from the Nairn supporters after two seasons of top performances in the yellow and black.
Weather forecast: Partly cloudy 5 degrees 11 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).