WELL-rested Wick Academy lie in store for Nairn County in what is sure to be a Christmas cracker at Harmsworth Park with the Scorries set for their first outing in over six weeks against a visiting side who needed an injury-time winner to see off Lossiemouth at Grant Park seven days ago.
Wick have suffered a number of postponements since their draw at Keith on November 8th and have now played at least two games less than every other club in the Highland League table. It means that a win in this one added to a positive run of form over the next few weeks could see Tom McKenna's men rocket up the standings as they aim to close the gap on the teams immediately in front of them.
County returned to winning ways last Saturday thanks to the efforts of super sub Gary Kerr, who came off the bench to net twice and turn the match at Lossiemouth on its head after County had trailed twice with Adam Porritt's strike early on in the second half not set to be enough to see Ronnie Sharp's side take anything from the match. Kerr stroked home the winner four minutes into injury time as Nairn grabbed all three points to ensure a positive reaction to the disappointing away defeat at Clachnacuddin in their last outing. Another tough match lies in store for the visitors at a ground where January's 5-1 success was their first victory in four attempts.
If you are unable to make it to Caithness to give the players some Christmas cheer then you can follow the match through the club's official social media channels by logging on to facebook.com/nairncountyfc and @NairnCounty on Twitter prior to kick-off where you will find the team line-ups, live updates of the match as it progresses, a report on full time and reaction from the Nairn camp later in the evening. Preview below:
Date: Saturday December 23rd 2017
Competition: Scottish Highland Football League
Opponents: Wick Academy
Manager: Tom McKenna
Venue: Harmsworth Park, Wick
Previous meeting: Nairn County 3 Wick Academy 2 August 30th 2017
Last time out: Wick Academy 1 Keith 1; Lossiemouth 2 Nairn County 3
League position: Wick Academy 14th Nairn County 11th
Form guides: Wick Academy DLLWLD Nairn County LLLLWLW
Team news: Adam Porritt misses out on the trip north for Nairn as he is away for the weekend while club captain, Gregg Main, took a step towards returning from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament as he underwent successful surgery in Glasgow this week. On-loan midfielder Liam MacDonald remains sidelined because of an ankle injury while Ewen Urquhart is also unavailable and Inaki Fernandino Soto is back in Spain on personal business. Teenage midfielder Joe Cuthbert has been brought in from the under-20s squad for the match.
One to watch: Sam Mackay. The former Highland League Young Player of the Year is one of the most influential players in the Scorries' squad and has been for a number of years now after switching to Harmsworth Park after a spell with Deveronvale. He started out his career at Wick's fierce rivals, Brora Rangers, where he represented Scotland at schoolboy level and even captained the club despite his young age. He inspired Tom McKenna's men to a share of the spoils after coming off the bench in their last outing away at Keith on November 8th and the break in fixtures will have allowed the attacking midfielder the time to return towards full fitness ahead of this one.
Match officials: Referee Will Smith, Assistants Andrew Bannerman and David Alexander.
Weather forecast: Light cloud 12 degrees 47 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).