A POOR afternoon in the final third of the park prevented Nairn County from adding to their goals tally in the view of manager Ronnie Sharp as stubborn Fort William put up strong resistance at Station Park.
It was a frustrating afternoon at times for the hosts, with Adam Porritt’s early opener going someway to prevented tension from building among the masses but at the same time, not opening the floodgates as might have been anticipated.
That is because Nairn were unable to seriously test Mateusz Kulbacki in the Fort goal prior to Gussie Dey’s maiden strike for the club in first half injury time.
The second half continued in the same vein until Max Ewan finally added Nairn’s third before the teenage forward rounded off a 4-0 win in the 90th minute.
Sharp said: “You have to give Fort William credit for the way they defended and it was the same last year against us. Going forward, it was very poor performance-wise from us but Fort can take the credit for keeping the score down because they prevented us from making an awful lot of clear-cut chances.
“We huffed and puffed from the halfway line onwards going forward. We only had one shot against us though and that was in the first few minutes and straight at our goalkeeper.
“It is three points for us but it seems to be that we struggle when we play Fort William. It was the same last year and in the end, it is just three points for us.”
He added: “Our awareness around about the edge of the box was poor. I thought we got to the by-line an awful lot and the ball was cut back into good areas but there was nobody there to finish it off because the boys in the middle had gone ahead of it. We have been working on that sort of move at training but it did not work today at all. We have to be more aware when things are happening in front of us.”
Porritt’s opener was his sixth goal of the season as he rifled home a headed clearance off Gussie Dey’s delivery.
Dey then went from provider to executioner by notching his first Nairn goal late on in the first half.
Sharp said: “It was good technique from Porritt – he kept it down and caught it well on the volley. I thought we would kick on from there but we never. It was not until the last couple of minutes of the first half that we were able to break through again with Gussie Dey getting his first goal for us. It was one of those games where we put it behind us and move on.”
Ewan was in the right place at the right time to do what he does best and tuck away two loose balls to add some shine to the score line for the hosts late on.
“We have been lacking that this season – someone who wants to be in there when things come off the goalkeeper,” Sharp stated. “He was there on the spot twice and it was good to see but we need more boys to do that.”
Sharp handed a competitive debut to 18-year-old Joe Cuthbert, who came on for the final 10 minutes of the match to join his under-20s team mate, Seamus McConaghy, who was introduced just after half time.
The manager stated: “I thought Joe did really well for 10 minutes. He had some good passes and won some headers and tackles. It is good for his confidence to come on and make his debut and he has been playing really well for the under-20s, where he is the captain of the team.
“It is good to get him on the park and get him involved because he has been training with the first team for a wee while now. Seamus McConaghy came on and played really well as well, which I was delighted to see.”
County had the bizarre situation of having to change shirts at half time due to a colour clash.
Fort William arrived with their light orange home tops with black shorts, which clashed with Nairn’s traditional yellow and black stripes and black shorts. The hosts changed to white shorts for the first half but as the first half wore on, the setting sun made the clash of shirt colours more difficult to tell apart, leaving Nairn to play out the second half in the unique ensemble of sky blue shirts, white shorts and yellow socks.
Sharp commented: “Our yellow clashed with their light orange and the referee had asked us before the game to change it but was happy for us just to swap the shorts.
“Some of our boys were not comfortable with it and with myself being colour blind, I was not comfortable with it either and I could not tell the difference between some of the players – if I could not tell the difference from the sidelines then it must have been difficult being out there playing in the game.”