THREE points at Fort William on Wednesday night ended Nairn County’s two-game winless run and ensured that they climbed up the Highland League standings by two places. And now they return to action at Station Park and a home meeting with a formidable opponent who are gearing themselves up for a cup semi-final this coming Tuesday.
Formartine United won through to the last four of the Highland League (Morganti) Cup in midweek by thrashing Strathspey Thistle 8-0 in the last eight of the competition. And an away trip to either Keith or Brora Rangers stands between Paul Lawson’s men and a second final appearance of the season, with the North Lodge club having already hoisted the Aberdeenshire Cup earlier in the campaign.
All that is to come though and Lawson will no doubt be emphasising to his players the importance of focussing fully on the task in hand this weekend as they look for the three points that will add value to their games in hand over Inverurie Locos in their attempt to break into the top three places in the table. Right now, the men from Pitmedden are eight points off Neil Cooper’s side but have played two games less.
Nairn negotiated a banana skin of an away trip to Fort William on Wednesday evening, with the travelling party arriving home in the early hours of Thursday morning having taken all three points on a narrow and heavy pitch in the swirling wind and horizontal rain. Manager Ronnie Sharp has seen his side defeated in all seven meetings with teams currently in the top five places in the Highland League table so far this season and will be looking for that to change at the start of what will be a challenging week for his squad with a trip to third-placed Inverurie Locos on the agenda next Saturday.
You can follow updates of the action from Station Park on the club’s official social media channels by logging on to facebook.com/nairncountyfc or following @NairnCounty on Twitter where you will be able to find team lines before kick-off, coverage of all the major talking points as the action progresses, a report on the final whistle and reaction from the County camp later in the evening. A preview of the match is below:
Date: Saturday March 17th 2018
Competition: Scottish Highland Football League
Opponents: Formartine United
Manager: Paul Lawson
Venue: Station Park, Nairn
Previous meeting: Formartine United 5 Nairn County 0 September 2nd 2017
Last time out: Fort William 0 Nairn County 2; Formartine United 8 Strathspey Thistle 0
League position: Nairn County 10th Formartine United 4th
Form guides: Nairn County WWWLLW Formartine United WLWWWW
Team news: Callum Maclean will drop out of the Nairn County team for this visit of Formartine United as he is away for the weekend but Adam Naismith returns to contention having missed Wednesday night’s trip to Fort William because of work commitments. Dylan Mackenzie sustained a nasty gash to the lip in that match and is hopeful of the swelling subsiding enough in time to feature but Inaki Fernandino-Soto is struggling with a groin problem having only been fit enough to make the bench in midweek. Goalkeeper Dylan Maclean continues to work his way back from the ankle ligament damage which plagued him during last Saturday’s match against Fraserburgh while Jack Maclean is also still receiving treatment for the calf injury he sustained in the win over Strathspey Thistle last month. Callum Ednie is nearing a return from a three-month layoff with a hamstring injury having returned to light training and Gregg Main has stepped up his rehabilitation from anterior cruciate ligament surgery after a positive meeting with his surgeon at the start of this week. Seamus McConaghy has been called up to the first team squad for the first time following his two-goal showing for the under-20s on Monday night and will join his team mates Joe Cuthbert, Cameron Maclean and Fraser Wilkie in being available for action. Craig Munro and Matty Macleod continue their loans at Inverness City.
One to watch: Scott Barbour. A hat-trick in the midweek Highland League (Morganti) Cup quarter final thumping of Strathspey Thistle still may not be enough for the former Fraserburgh wide man to keep his place in manager Paul Lawson’s selection such is the strength in depth of the North Lodge outfit’s attacking options. The likes of Conor Gethins and Andrew Greig sat on the bench for that midweek clash with Archie Macphee, Garry Wood and Scott Ferries also at Lawson disposal. If he has done enough to retain his place in the starting eleven, then Barbour’s electric pace and pinpoint finishing will be important for the visitors as they look to avoid an upset and take all three points in their continued pursuit of a top three finish.
Match officials: Referee Alex Shepherd, Assistants Darren Westmacott and Barry Stuart.
Weather forecast: Light cloud and breezy 2 degrees 18 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).