UNBEATEN in 2018, Strathspey Thistle come to Station Park looking to stretch that run having more than doubled their points tally for the season since the turn of the year.
The Jags picked up a home draw with Clachnacuddin which could have seen them take all three points on another day before going one better and turning over Turriff United at The Haughs a fortnight ago. That win took their total for the season to seven points, meaning that they are beginning to pull away from Fort William behind them and close in on Keith and Lossiemouth in front of them with a 15th place finish increasingly looking like a distinct possibility as they aim for a positive second half to the season.
Confidence will be high in the Strathspey ranks and having won at Station Park last season, Ally Munro’s men will arrive with their sights firmly poised on the victory that will pull them to within a point of 16th place in the table if Keith are beaten by champions elect Cove Rangers and would also set them up nicely for a winnable Highland League (Morganti) Cup first round tie at home to Huntly next weekend.
Nairn have made heavy weather of recording successive 3-2 wins in recent weeks with the victory at Huntly a fortnight ago achieved after the Black and Golds almost nicked a point with nine men before a late, late County penalty took the spoils. And then last weekend it was penalty woe for the home side at Station Park as they missed twice from 12 yards in the opening 20 minutes before eventually going on to eliminate Lossiemouth from the Highland League (Morganti) Cup at the first round stage.
Live updates from this match are available on the club’s official social media feeds at facebook.com/nairncountyfc and @NairnCounty on Twitter where you can find team line-ups before kick-off, coverage of all of the major talking points throughout the match as it progresses, a report on the final whistle and reaction from manager Ronnie Sharp later in the evening. Meanwhile, a preview of the match is below:
Date: Saturday February 17th 2018
Competition: Scottish Highland Football League
Opponents: Strathspey Thistle
Manager: Ally Munro
Venue: Station Park, Nairn
Previous meeting: Strathspey Thistle 0 Nairn County 2 October 21st 2017
Last time out: Nairn County 3 Lossiemouth 2; Turriff United 1 Strathspey Thistle 2
League position: Nairn County 11th Strathspey Thistle 17th
Form guides: Nairn County LWDWWW Strathspey Thistle LLLLDW
Team news: Goalkeeper Dylan Maclean has strained ankle ligaments and will miss this weekend’s match with Ryan Macleod and Fraser Wilkie battling it out to replace the County stopper between the posts for the visit of the Grantown Jags. Gregg Main continues to work his way back from the knee surgery that he underwent just before Christmas while Callum Ednie is also still on the sidelines having sustained a hamstring injury at Wick Academy eight weeks ago.
One to watch: Ross Naismith. Birthday boy and former County midfielder turned 25 this week and will be looking to mark the occasion by finding the net on his first return to Station Park. The attack-minded player only left Nairn last month and has started his career in Grantown with a bang by scoring on his first start for the club in their impressive 2-1 win at Turriff United a fortnight ago. It brought the former Ross County youth’s personal tally at Turriff’s Haughs ground to three for the season having notched a double for Nairn there back in August. A player that the home fans and County defence will know all about from his six years at Station Park, he provides trickery and creativity in the final third and it is no surprise that the Jags’ recent upturn in results has coincided with his arrival.
Match officials: Referee Will Smith, Assistants Gary McCarthy and James McMillan.
Weather forecast: Light cloud 5 degrees 14 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).