THERE were words of praise for hat trick hero, Jordan Macrae and debutant goalkeeper, Fraser Wilkie from manager Ronnie Sharp as Nairn County clocked up their biggest of the season with a 5-0 home success over Fort William.
The teenage duo were the star performers on an afternoon when 18-year-old attacker Macrae doubled his goals tally for the season and 17-year-old stopper Wilkie marked his first Highland League appearance with a clean sheet.
Macrae got the ball rolling on a big home win with the opener on 16 minutes before Dylan Mackenzie looped home number two with just over 10 minutes remaining until the break.
Macrae headed home his second after the restart with Gary Kerr slamming home a fourth before Macrae completed his hat trick just 10 minutes into the second half.
"It was a tricky game for us," stated Sharp. "We knew that we had to get the win but we started a bit slowly in the first half. I thought we looked apprehensive knowing that it was a game where we were favourites and we had to get the three points."
"But once we got a goal in front and then made it 2-0, I do not think the result was in doubt. It was good to see the front boys all get themselves a goal as well - Gary Kerr and Dylan Mackenzie got one each and Jordan got three and that is good for all of them."
He added: "I think we had good performances all over the park. And once we settled down in the first half and scored early in the second half, I do not think we were troubled from there."
"We had more chances to score after we went 5-0 up but the most pleasing thing from our point of view is that we did not lose any goals and we always looked in control. Hopefully, that gives us confidence moving on to the last five games of the season because we want to finish well going into next season. That is the aim now."
Wilkie became the third goalkeeper to be used by Sharp this season with first choice, Dylan Maclean - still only 21 - and backup Ryan Macleod - just 19 - both on the injury list.
Sharp said: "It is great to see young boys doing well. Jordan Macrae and Dylan Mackenzie are both only 18, Fraser is 17 and has played in goal today and kept a clean sheet and Jack Maclean came off the bench in the second half and he is still only 19. It is great to see these boys stepping from youth football to the under-20s and now playing in the first team here and all looking the part."
He added: "This is Fraser's first season with the under-20s squad and he only moved up from the under-17s in the summer."
"He did really well and had some good saves in the first half and good handling throughout the game. He made an excellent save early on off a free kick and he kept us from going behind as the game was still goalless at that point. It was a superb save from him because it took a deflection on the way through and it he showed great reactions to keep it out. He looked assured throughout and it reflects well on the youth and under-20s coaches that boys like Fraser are coming in and looking comfortable."
Macrae's treble takes him on to six goals in 29 appearances this season having only made a solitary substitute appearance in his maiden campaign at Station Park.
"It is tremendous for Jordan," said Sharp. "He has been excellent all season and he has not long turned 18. There are not many players who can say they have scored a hat trick in the Highland League at that age and they were all well-taken goals."