RONNIE Sharp credited opponents Strathspey Thistle who made life difficult for his Nairn County side with the hosts eventually edging a tight contest by a single goal to nil.
Jags midfielder Nicholas Mochan was red carded for an elbow on Adam Naismith just after the half-hour mark but County toiled to break down the solid 10 men of Thistle. That was until Jordan MacRae popped up with his 16th goal of the season to settle the issue with quarter-of-an-hour to play.
Sharp said: “Most of the credit goes to Strathspey because I thought they were good and they stopped us at almost everything we tried, especially going forward in the final third. They take most of the credit out of the game and they are improving quickly. You can see how they got a point against Clach and beat Turriff.
“We huffed and puffed in the final third although I thought we looked pretty solid at the back. We only gave one chance away in the first half and maybe a half-chance in the second half. We need to sort out the last third area of the park because we are struggling to score at times. We get a lot of possession in the last third but do not make a lot out of it. We are scoring goals but we need to be better.”
He added: “It is hard to break down 10 men. Over the last few weeks, we have had to break down 10 men and nine men a fortnight ago and it is difficult. We are not street-wise enough yet, which does not help either.
“We got into good positions but I do not think their goalkeeper had a real save to make until Jordan scored. We then had two or three really good chances after that to kill it off but we never took them. Against better teams, we are going to have to take our chances and we have a hard game against Rothes coming up. We need to sharpen up and we will probably make a few changes as we have a couple of injuries and boys away, so we will have the chance to freshen it up a bit.”
MacRae stuck away one of Nairn’s rare sights of goal in the second half after spinning just inside the box and planting a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
“It was a good finish,” Sharp reflected. “In the box, Jordan is two-footed, so he can go either way. I thought it was a really good finish into the corner of the net and it did not give the goalkeeper any chance.
“We will take the three points and that is us on more points than we managed in the whole of last season with 12 games still remaining. We are showing an improvement and we are winning games that we are not playing great in whereas as last year, we could not do that.”
Thistle went down to 10 men after Mochan caught Adam Naismith with a flying elbow 33 minutes in.
Sharp commented: “I think everybody knew it was a straight red card for an elbow in the face. I do not think they can have any complaints about that.
“It is hard to play against a team that is sitting in and playing as well as they were because they never gave us any chances until we scored. I thought they were excellent defensively but luckily, we managed to get one and maybe should have had another couple. I was pleased not to concede too because we have been conceding a lot of easy goals lately.”
There was one change to Sharp’s starting line-up with injured goalkeeper Dylan Maclean replaced by Ryan Macleod between the posts.
Sharp added: “Ryan did well and looked confident. He will go again on Wednesday and we are not sure how long Dylan will be injured for but it is down to Ryan to keep the place.”