A WONDER save from Cove Rangers goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie saw Cove Rangers home at Station Park last night, according to Les Fridge after the boss had watched his side push the title-contenders all the way, writes Graeme Macleod.
The home side started well but found themselves trailing after an even first half when Jamie Watt struck in stoppage time before the break.
It got worse for the hosts a minute after the turnaround as Daryl Nicol rifled in Cove's second. But County rallied and after Conor Gethins halved the deficit, Nairn looked good for a share of the spoils.
McKenzie pulled off his top drawer save to keep out Sam Urquhart though and after Gregg Main was dismissed 10 minutes from time, John Sheran's men saw out a narrow win.
"It was great play from Sam and an incredible save," said Fridge.
"Sam cut inside, beat something like three defenders, hit the ball so well and it was undoubtedly heading for the top corner but it was kept out by what was a wonder save and that is what secured the points for them."
"I know Calum Antell had a couple of good saves but McKenzie was the busier of the two goalies. We worked really hard, played good football and knocked the ball about well but despite that, we are sitting here with nothing. We deserved something out of the game because we played really well and created chances."
Nicol had a chance to seal the points shortly after McKenzie's save when Cove were awarded a penalty but the usually-clinical striker struck the post from 12 yards. Fridge felt the award was harsh.
"The boys are saying in there that they thought the foul for the penalty award was outside of the box," he revealed.
He added: "Before that, we made changes and got ourselves right back into the game but then Easter (Gregg Main) was booked for saying something to the referee and then received a second booking for his first foul after coming on as sub, which put us under the cosh again."
Fridge saw his side ship an early goal at the start of the second half to go two goals behind to continue a worrying trend of conceding shortly after emerging from the dressing room either at the start of the game or at the break.
"It is very frustrating," the boss stated. "We had a chance to clear the ball, did not clear our lines, it came back in, ricocheted about a bit and the boy (Nicol) was standing on his own to knock it in. That was disappointing and was a real set back."
Fridge was leading his side into the game against title-challenging Cove just four days after a gruelling Highland League (Morganti) Cup semi-final success over Turriff United.
He added: "Our fitness was very good after such a hard game on Saturday, which is pleasing. We have another game on Saturday and then we have a wee bit of break, so we will need to keep on top of it."
"It is not like we were outplayed tonight and we more than matched them. We can take a lot out of it."
Nairn have the final of the Highland League (Morganti) Cup on the horizon but Fridge is refusing to look beyond Saturday's trip to Huntly.
He said: "If you get into a momentum and you are playing a certain way then you need to continue that. You cannot be chopping and changing things about too much going into such a big game but we will see how it goes and look at each game as it comes."