A PLACE in the semi-finals of the North of Scotland Cup and a tie against either Lossiemouth or Inverness CT is the reward for the victors in this derby encounter at Station Park as Nairn County welcome Forres Mechanics.
The quarter-final clash is the second time the two clubs have met in a week-and-a-half with Forres easing to a 4-1 league win over County at Mosset Park to pick up all three points. The home side bounced back from that with a 3-1 win over Clachnacuddin at Station Park and manager Ronnie Sharp will be looking for his players to put up more of a fight in this one than they did in their last meeting with the Can Cans.
It has been a positive start to the new season for Charlie Rowley’s men with four victories from five outings – their only defeat coming in a narrow 2-0 loss to Brora Rangers. They made it to this stage of the competition with an impressive 3-2 home win over Rothes and will have their eyes on the trophy they last picked up in the 2010/11 season.
Nairn made it through to the quarter finals of the competition for the third year in a row by defeating Elgin City 8-0 in what was the club’s highest margin of victory since Sharp returned as manager just over two years ago. Having fallen to Brora Rangers at this stage of the competition two years running, the County boss will be looking for a change in opponent to bring about a change in fortune as his troops strive to make it into the last four.
If you cannot make it to Station Park for the tie, you can follow updates on the club’s official social media channels by logging on to facebook.com/nairncountyfc or following @NairnCounty on Twitter where you will find team line-ups before kick-off, coverage of all the talking points as the match progresses, a report on the final whistle and reaction from the Nairn camp later on. In the meantime, a preview of the match is below:
Date: Wednesday August 22nd 2018
Competition: Scottish Highland Football League
Opponents: Forres Mechanics
Manager: Charlie Rowley
Venue: Station Park, Nairn
Previous meeting: Forres Mechanics 4 Nairn County 1 August 11th 2018
Last time out: Nairn County 3 Clachnacuddin 1; Deveronvale 0 Nairn County 5
League position: Nairn County 14th Forres Mechanics 7th
Form guides: Nairn County LWWLLW Forres Mechanics WLWWW
Team news: There is one defender in with another dropping out for Ronnie Sharp in this quarter final clash as a recurrence of the thigh injury which kept Kenny McKenzie on the sidelines when these two sides met at Mosset Park a week-and-a-half ago rules him out of this visit of the Mechanics. But into the squad comes Fraser Dingwall, who has served his two-game suspension after being sent off against Wick Academy a fortnight ago. Also missing out is goalkeeper Dylan Maclean, who sustained a foot injury which forced him off at half-time on Saturday and although his replacement, James Kendall also took a knock, he is fit enough to take his place between the posts in this one. Seamus McConaghy has work commitments so will drop out of the squad while Ryan MacDonald is also an injury doubt.
One to watch: Stuart Soane. Played a commanding role from defence in his side’s comfortable league win over Nairn in their last meeting, the return of Graham Fraser from injury meant that the former Huntly, Peterhead and Formartine United man was deployed in attack at the weekend and he proved his versatility by notching a hat-trick in Forres’s 5-0 victory to become the third Can Can to net a treble already this season. Good in the air and with the ball at his feet, he has the knack of being able to track down free space inside the penalty area to score more than his fair share of goals throughout the season.
Match officials: Referee Gordon Seago, Assistants Lee Robertson and Davy Robertson.
Weather forecast: Sunny intervals 14 degrees 11 mph wind.
Admission prices: Adults £8 Concessions £5 (season tickets not valid).