IT may be back-to-back matches against Wick Academy for Nairn County but they come five weeks apart from Ronnie Sharp ready to take his side back to Caithness but this time in the preliminary round of the Highland League (Morganti) Cup.
The gap has been caused by the winter weather with Nairn seeing proposed matches against Formartine United, Rothes and Keith (twice) all falling to the snow and freezing conditions. That has not been the ideal preparation for County as they gear up for their final cup competition of the season, with the winner of this tie due to host Lossiemouth in the first round on Saturday February 10th.
In the intervening time between the previous meeting of the two clubs, Wick have managed to play one league fixture with the Scorries recording a solid 2-0 home victory over Keith a fortnight ago to ensure that they go into this clash on a three-game unbeaten run.
If you are unable to make it up to Harmsworth Park for the match then you can follow live updates on 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, instant updates on all of the major talking points as the match progresses, a report on the final whistle and reaction from the County camp. You can also follow the club’s new Instagram page @nairncountyfc for behind-the-scenes access to all the build-up to the tie. Meanwhile, a preview of the match is below:
Date: Saturday January 27th 2018
Competition: Highland League (Morganti) Cup Preliminary Round
Opponents: Wick Academy
Manager: Tom McKenna
Venue: Harmsworth Park, Wick
Previous meeting: Wick Academy 1 Nairn County 1 December 23rd 2017
Last time out: Wick Academy 2 Keith 0; Wick Academy 1 Nairn County 1
League position: Wick Academy 14th Nairn County 12th
Form guides: Nairn County LLWLWD Wick Academy LWLDDW
Team news: Gregg Main received positive news on his recovery from anterior cruciate ligament surgery before Christmas with the club captain meeting with his surgeon last week to be informed that he is ahead of schedule in his recuperation with a summer return to action now a very real prospect for the midfielder. He will be joined on the sidelines at Harmsworth Park by Callum Ednie, who is still recovering from the hamstring pull he sustained on the club’s last visit to Caithness at Christmas time. Since that match, both Gary Kerr and Ross Naismith have left the club following transfers to Rothes and Strathspey Thistle respectively with the club pushing to have a new signing of their own registered in time to feature in this tie. Manager Ronnie Sharp will also be boosted by the return of Ewen Urquhart with the midfielder ready to be involved in a matchday squad for the first time in almost four months but youngsters Ryan Macleod and Matty Macleod are both unavailable with young defender Craig Munro ruled out because of a throat infection throat infection.
One to watch: Craig Gunn. The prolific striker completed a return to his boyhood club on the verge of County’s last visit to Harmsworth Park just over a month ago and although it was not quite a happy homecoming with the striker unable to find the net after coming off the bench in a 1-1 draw, five weeks of training with his new team mates will have done him the world of good as he looks to make just as much of an impact with the Scorries as he did as a promising teenager. Back then, his electric pace and goalscoring form alerted Ross County, with the Staggies taking him to Victoria Park before a loan spell at Peterhead was followed by eight successful years at Elgin City, with Gunn now the Borough Briggs outfit’s highest Scottish League goalscorer. A short spell at Brora Rangers saw him lift the North of Scotland Cup earlier this season before he returned home to Wick at Christmas and still being only 30 years old, he will be ambitious to lay his hands on more silverware but this time with his hometown team, starting with progressing towards this season’s Highland League (Morganti) Cup by winning this tie.
Match officials: Referee Ben Dempster, Assistants Alex McDonald and James McMillan.
Weather forecast: Sunny intervals 6 degrees 22 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).