THERE was a lack of defensive organisation at the back in the eyes of Nairn County manager Ronnie Sharp as he saw last night's derby at Forres Mechanics slip away from his side in the last eight minutes of the first half.
County went into that phase level and buoyed for Gary Kerr's equaliser to counter Craig McGovern's opener but strikes from Stuart Soane, Andrew Macrae and Lee Fraser (2) in a blistering finale to the opening 45 minutes put the outcome beyond doubt.
Soane added his second after the break before Fraser completed his hat-trick to inflict Nairn's heaviest defeat of the season.
Sharp's hand was just forced 10 minutes before kick-off with goalkeeper Dylan Maclean pulling out of the game after being unable to shake of a groin strain during the warm-up. Brora Rangers stopper Daniel Cormack had been secured on a loan deal as cover just before the match but had to be pitched in for a debut despite only meeting his new team mates an hour before kick-off and having been off work sick resulting in an overnight stay in hospital just a few days ago.
It was hardly ideal preparation going into a match against a Forres side still on a high from their dramatic comeback at Turriff United on Saturday but Sharp still expected more from his charges.
He said: "When we were 1-0 down and got it back to 1-1, I thought the game was even but as soon as we went to 2-1 and then 3-1, we just fell apart."
"That has not happened since the fourth game of the season when we played Buckie at home and I do not know why it happened tonight."
"We made it easy for them and a lot of the goals came from us losing the ball further up the park and them breaking on us quickly, which they did really well."
"We had chances and even in the second half, we hit the post twice, had players through one-on-one with the 'keeper on two occasions and had a four-on-two break but we just did not take our chances again. That might have made the scoreline a bit more respectable but we certainly did not deserve to get anything out of the game."
The game was over as a contest by the interval with County going from sitting level on 37 minutes having just seen Kerr thwarted by Stuart Knight in the Forres goal to trailing 5-1 as they trudged off at the interval.
Sharp added: "When you are on the park, you have to be more organised. Once it goes to 2-1 or 3-1, we need to say "no more" and shut up shop until half time and then regroup and go again. That did not happen and it comes down to a lack of organisation and communication between the players."
"I did not think the work rate was a problem, it was about making the right decisions at the right times and communication but we have three league games to go now and we have to get something out of these games to get past this. The boys have to lift themselves now."
Cormack's debut came about with Ryan Macleod still suffering from the injury he picked up in the home game against Turriff United while Dylan Maclean was injured in his return to action at the weekend and Fraser Wilkie is on holiday.
Sharp revealed: "Both of our first team goalkeepers are injured with groin strains and Dylan tried the warm up but was not able to play. Dan came in to help us but he has not trained for five weeks, so he was going to be rusty. Obviously, our defence is used to playing with our other two goalkeepers, so it was a big ask for the boy."
"It was always going to be totally different for our boys at the back tonight with that change. They know what our other goalies are like - what their movements are going to be, whether they are going to come off their line and kicking-wise as well as they are both very comfortable with the ball at their feet."
"That is not an excuse though because we still need to show more all over the park. It is one of those performances that we have to put behind us quickly because we still have the North Cup to come and three league games."