EWEN Urquhart headed the only goal of the game as Nairn County earned their first win of the season by beating Deveronvale. And manager Ronnie Sharp thought the visitors just about deserved all three points.
Although Nairn enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession in the first half, a number of breakdowns in the final third meant they did not react enough chances to reflect their dominance of the ball and it was the Banffers who came close to breaking the deadlock on a handful of occasions throughout the first 45 minutes.
But County stepped it up immediately after the break with Urquhart heading home a couple of minutes after the turnaround. And despite ‘Vale pushing on as the half wore on, Nairn never looked in any serious danger of surrendering their early second half lead, as they did at the same venue almost four months ago at the end of last season.
“I thought we deserved the win in the end,” declared Sharp. “In the first half, we were a bit sloppy but in the second half, we were the better team. Once we got ahead, it was good to stay ahead and we recorded a clean sheet.
“We always find it difficult down here. The games between ourselves and ‘Vale have mostly had one goal in them or been a draw. We knew it would a tough game, so we are delighted with the three points.”
Goalkeeper Dylan Maclean was restored between the posts after making way for James Kendall in Wednesday night’s North of Scotland Cup tie against Forres Mechanics and the shot stopper proved his worth with a number of impressive first half blocks to keep the game goalless going into the interval.
“Dylan had a good game down at Formartine last week, where he kept the score down for us,” Sharp said. “He did well again today but we have two good ‘keepers this year with James (Kendall) playing well against Elgin in midweek. Dylan did well today particularly in the first half and I thought we should have scored more ourselves in the second half.”
He added: “Games like today are where we have to look to pick up points because the top four teams in this league are a cut above – if you get something off them then it is a bonus. Ourselves and ‘Vale ended up on the same points last year, so it is good for us to come down here and get a victory.
“We have brought in some new boys this year with Fraser Dingwall coming in at the back and Tom Maclennan – who played up front today – came in late last season. They have been with us for pre-season, which has allowed them to settle in this season. We had a couple of boys missing today with Adam Naismith and Adam Porritt unavailable – they both played well in pre-season and were first picks for us last season, so we have them to come back into the team.”
Urquhart’s goal was his first in competitive action for Nairn as he headed home a Max Ewan cross shortly after the turnaround to complete a training ground move.
Sharp revealed: “We have been working on the width of the team in training and it was a fine ball out from Glenn Main to Max in the wide areas. He controlled it well and floated in a good cross to the back post and it was good to see Ewen arriving to get his head on it. We have been working on that and it was good to see it come off.”