THERE was plenty for Nairn County manager Ronnie Sharp to be enthusiastic about even though he saw his team edged out by a single goal to nil at Forres Mechanics on the opening day of the 2017/18 Highland League season.
Stuart Soane struck for the Can Cans 13 minutes in and that proved to be the only goal of the game on an afternoon when Nairn competed well and can consider themselves unfortunate not to have gone home with a share of the spoils for their efforts.
Sharp said: "I am really disappointed not take something out of the game and I thought that if we had taken a point out if it then it would have been a fair result."
"We played well, although for the first 10 - 15 minutes, we were a bit edgy but we came into the game."
"Stephen (Foster) had a couple of good saves to make in the first half but in the second half, I do not think he was under any pressure."
Sharp saw his team enjoy a lot of possession and look comfortable on the ball but an inability to convert that into clear cut chances meant that Forres managed to smuggle all three points over the line.
"Again, it is in the last third where we need to improve," Sharp stated. "Today, it was the same as it was last year and we need to learn to make that crucial pass at the right time and maybe a bit of luck as well because sometimes it is just a bit of luck that can win you a game with a ricochet going the right way for you or something like that."
"I thought the boys competed. It will be a long and hard season again and that is what we need to do in every game. We need to get points on the board early and that will take a bit of pressure off us. We have some hard games coming up and Wednesday at home to Deveronvale is an important game for us. I think that if we can put that effort in and maybe get a bit of luck then we can look to win that one."
Sharp handed debuts to Stephen Foster, Adam Porritt, Ewen Urquhart and Cohen Ramsay from the start with Adam Naismith also in the first eleven as he began his second spell at the club. Fellow summer arrivals Ryan MacDonald and Max Ewan also appeared from the bench in the second half.
Sharp said: "Stephen is new to the club in goals and I thought he had a very good game in the first half and then in the second half, I do not think he really had anything to do."
"I thought young Cohen for a 17-year-old was excellent on the left-hand side for us and was up and down all game while Ewen Urquhart looks like he can take to the Highland League no problem at all based on today's performance - I thought he was our best player."
"You then have Adam Porritt and Adam Naismith, who have played at this level before and settled in well with Max Ewan and Ryan MacDonald coming off the bench. Young Callum Ednie got some game time as well and no one looked out of place, which is encouraging."