MANAGER Les Fridge felt a lack of conviction in the final third prevented Nairn County from running out more comfortable winners against Strathspey Thistle this afternoon, writes Graeme Macleod.
County fell behind to Kenneth Mair's first half opener but drew level four minutes before half time when Alan Pollock blasted home.
Robbie Duncanson converted a penalty kick midway through the second half before the County skipper rounded off the victory with the last action of the game as he lashed home having latched on to Wayne Mackintosh's cross-field pass.
Fridge his side were missing a touch of ruthlessness in the final third though and that prevented his charges from putting the game beyond doubt earlier in the proceedings.
He said: "It showed, at times, that we were a wee bit rusty in front of goal, especially in the first half. We were taking too many touches in the box and our final pass was a yard too heavy or in the wrong place."
"We had a lot of the play and created a lot of chances but just could not find that killer touch in front of goal."
"We were caught on the ball in the middle of the park at times, we did not move it quickly enough and we wanted too many touches in and around the box."
"When you look at the first and third goals though, it was a case of "touch and strike". But for a lot of the rest of the game, we were guilty of wanting too many touches in and around the box to try to open things up instead of dropping the shoulder and getting a shot away."
Fridge heaped praise on his team's opponents, who made life difficult for Nairn and will feel they could have taken a point from their visit to Station Park.
The boss said: "Take nothing away from Strathspey - they went 1-0 up and took their goal really well. That gave them something to hold on to, so they worked really hard and made life difficult for us."
"That is the highest points tally Strathspey have had in the league since they came in and they beat Clach a couple of weeks ago as well among another couple of good results. They are definitely an improving side."
Fridge deployed Sam Urquhart as a lone striker in the absence of top scorer, Conor Gethins with Robbie Duncanson in behind and Alan Pollock and John Cameron either side.
"Sam gives you a lot of energy when he plays up front," said Fridge. "He is also capable of producing a bit of magic - you are not sure what he is going to do although I am not sure if he knows himself!"
Wayne Mackintosh's appearance was his first since injuring his knee at Wick Academy in the Scottish Cup back in October. The midfielder made a great impact by providing an assist for Duncanson's second with a fine, raking pass from the left touchline to the right edge of the box.
"He could not play that sort of ball when he was fit, so I do not know where that came from!" exclaimed Fridge.
"He has been back training for the last few weeks, although he will struggle to play a full 90 minutes. It was an opportunity for him to go in and shore things up a bit at 2-1 because he chases the ball and works hard. About 20-25 minutes is all he can manage at the moment but if we can introduce him and get him a bit of game time then it will definitely help things."
County welcome Fraserburgh to Station Park on Wednesday night just three days before the final of the Highland League (Morganti) Cup. But despite such a huge game being just around the corner, Fridge does not anticipating making wholesale changes to his team in midweek.
He explained: "Out of today's squad, Mo (Michael Morrison) is struggling, Robbie Duncanson is away so he will miss Wednesday night as will Bradley Halsman most likely as well. That is three players who were named in the squad today and unfortunately, I do not have an awful lot to tinker with."