LES Fridge has called on his Nairn County players to become more savvy after watching them put in a battling performance with 10 men but have nothing to show for it at the end of this away trip to Turriff United, writes Graeme Macleod.
Michael Morrison was dismissed just before half time for a second bookable offence with County well in the contest at 0-0 but Turriff eventually made the extra man pay after the break and Atrjoms Kuznecovs netted from the penalty spot to earn his side a narrow victory.
Fridge said: “It is a learning curve for us as well because I think we have to be a bit more streetwise, especially when we come somewhere like this and go down to 10 men. We competed and gave as good as we got but were beaten by a penalty kick.
“Over the piece, I cannot fault the attitude or work rate of the players but when you go down to 10 men at these sorts of places, it is going to be difficult.”
The match was evenly-poised throughout the first half with Turriff starting well before Nairn began to ease their way into proceedings and look dangerous in the final third.
The potential complexion of the forthcoming second half was altered on 42 minutes though when Morrison was dismissed having been yellow carded for the second time after committing a foul on the halfway line.
“Turriff came out of the blocks and I thought they started really well but we got to grips with it and I thought we had the three best chances of the first half but just needed one of them to go in.
“Mo (Michael Morrison) being sent off just before half time was a bit of a blow. We regrouped and reorganised at half time though and I think if you had come into watch the game at half time, you would not have noticed that we were down to 10 men on the balance of play. We battled away and gave as good as we got but were sucker punched with a penalty.
He added: “The first yellow card for Mo was definitely a booking and I do not think there are any doubts about that. The second one was right in front of us though and I do not think there was any malice in it at all. It was one of those where the referee could have given him a final warning. It was not a vicious tackle and although it was a foul, I do not think it merited a booking.”
The home side found a winner from the penalty spot after Paul Macleod fouled Andrew MacAskill in the 18-yard box and Atrjoms Kuznecovs did the rest from 12 yards.
Fridge said: “There are not any complaints about the award of the penalty. Alan Pollock received the ball on the edge of the box and then went inside but I do not think he realised the man was there. The boy then took it off him when we should have cleared our lines on the edge of the box. It has then been played wide and Paul dived in. He had a very good afternoon apart from that though but he was a bit rash and dived in when the boy was not through on goal and was a bit wider.
Fridge was pleased to see his side continue to push forward in search of a goal that might have earned them at least a point despite being a man light.
He said: “Although we went down to 10 men, we did not just sit in and defend – we went forward and tried to create things. I thought we played a lot of good football in the second half as well, even with 10 men. We were switching the game, we got at them and we caused them one or two problems. It is disappointing not to take anything out of it with the amount of effort that we put into the game.”