LES Fridge was heartened by his team’s strong finish to this William Hill Scottish Cup second round tie and praised their ability to respond to going a goal down after they twice fought back to earn a 2-2 draw, writes Graeme Macleod.
Nairn trailed in the first half before finding a leveller before the break and although Wick went back in front with just 13 minutes remaining, County bounced back again to take the tie to a replay next week.
Fridge said: “I thought we finished the game very strongly and had a couple of great chances.
“They were probably the better side in the first half and we did not properly get to grips with things. We changed the shape a wee bit at half time though and I thought we were a lot better in the second half. We came right out and were winning the ball higher up the park, which helped us create more chances.
“They are always dangerous and have pace, which you saw with the second goal through Sam Mackay. You have to be aware of that because they counter very quickly.
“Although Calum Antell made a good save to keep out the one-on-one from David Allan, Robbie (Duncanson) had a wee half chance for us, Sam Urquhart and Tony Wallace also went close and there were a couple of things on the edge that were cut out, like the wee pass through to John Cameron that would have put him in on goal.
“Over the piece, to come from behind twice against a very good side and finish the game strongly means that we are looking forward to it again next week.”
Gary Weir put Wick ahead on 28 minutes but Wayne Mackintosh levelled for Nairn a minute before the break.
Fridge added: “As I said at the time in the dugout, Toshy likes to try the shot a lot but only about one go in each season. It was a great strike though at a great time. That gave us that wee lift and I thought that we controlled long spells of the game in the second half and looked more like ourselves.”
Goalkeeper Calum Antell made a string of impressive saves, including a diving full length effort to keep out Gary Weir in the second half before thwarting David Allan after the turnaround when the Wick striker looked odds-on to score.
Fridge said: “He had two great saves in the first half and then the double save in the second half but as I said, they counter and break very quickly on you and that is what causes problems when you are on the attack.”
Fridge introduced Tony Wallace as a substitute in the second half in the attacker’s first appearance for over two months after he injured a knee at Strathspey Thistle in the North of Scotland Cup quarter final in August.
The manager said: “Tony has been out for a while and you can tell that he is not match fit yet. We wanted to put on fresh legs by putting him on and we put John Cameron on as well with Robbie and Sam coming off to help us have a real go at things. I thought both players did really well and contributed but Tony gives us a different dimension. We were definitely going for the win at the end and very nearly found it.”
Next week’s replay will be the third time the clubs have met already this season with a fourth clash in the North of Scotland Cup final only four weeks away as well.
Fridge stated: “We are still in the competition and it gives us everything to play for next week. We will have played Wick a number of times this season as well but we are still in cup, so we will prepare this week and do it all over again next Saturday.”