THE biggest win at Harmsworth Park in Nairn County's history was described as the best of the season by Ronnie Sharp after he saw his side defeat hosts Wick Academy by five goals to one.
Jack Maclean's early opener set Nairn on their way after a bright opening from the visitors before quick-fire goals from Kenny McKenzie and Jordan Macrae just after half time consolidated County's position.
Steven Anderson pulled one back for Wick midway through the second half but Academy failed to threaten from there and Maclean's second killed the contest 12 minutes from time.
Nairn's five-star showing was completed in stoppage time with Wayne Mackintosh capitalising on an error by Wick goalkeeper Sean McCarthy to walk in his side's fifth goal of the day.
"It is our best win of the season," said Sharp just after the final whistle. "To come to a place like this and score five, there is not much more you can do than that."
He added: "We did not expect it to be so convincing coming up here because it is one of the toughest places to go in the Highland League. Wick are one of the best footballing teams in the league, so we knew it was going to be difficult."
"We knew that we had been playing well but we were not taking our chances. In the last game against Strathspey, we created about 30 chances and only took two but we took our chances today and I thought we played really well."
County flew out of the traps and even prior to the opener on 11 minutes, they looked dangerous on the attack playing up the Harmsworth slope.
Sharp stated: "For the first 20 minutes, I thought we played really well and could - probably should - have been two up. We went to sleep a bit after that but as soon as we came out in the second half, we scored two quick goals and more or less dominated the second half."
"We have been 3-0 up a couple of times this year and have got edgy, so when it went to 3-1 we got edgy for about 10 minutes but we settled down again. That is just down to inexperience with us because there are a lot of boys playing in the Highland League for the first time. I thought we finished strongly again and it was a good performance from us."
He added: "Not taking the chances has been the story of the season. We have gone to Fraserburgh and scored three, Brora and scored three and scored six at Huntly but in between, we have missed a lot of chances."
"If you do not take your chances, you do not put teams under pressure. Scoring those goals at the start of the second half today though put Wick under pressure. They went chasing the game and that left it open for us to counter attack again."
Sharp was able to field Wayne Mackintosh, Gregg Main and Paul Macleod in the same starting line-up for the first time since beating Lossiemouth at Station Park in October and only the second time this season.
The boss said: "We were disappointed with how it went in our last few games because we thought we would be pushing up a bit. We are inexperienced and our more experienced players have all been missing at some point in the season - your Wayne Mackintoshes, your Paul Macleods and your Gregg Mains have all been out for good periods of the season and we had Glenn Main suspended today. We are starting to get them all on the park together now though and that is making a big difference and hopefully we can have a strong end to the season."
"They are our top players from last season and they are the ones who were playing regularly with Nairn before. All of the rest of them have either played with Nairn before but not played a lot or are new boys. It is a big step to play in the Highland League week in, week out because you have to have your game on every week but hopefully we can now have a good end to the season."
Two-goal hero Jack Maclean got the ball rolling with the opener in the first half and also grabbed the crucial fourth goal in kill off the Scorries.
Sharp said: "Jack is still only 19 and we have a few young boys in the team. This is his first season stepping up from the youth ranks and he has four goals so far, which is a great return."
"His second one was a really cool finish. Sometimes you see younger boys not having the coolness in front of goal to do that but Jack did and it was an excellent finish across the 'keeper and in at the far post. That just killed off any chance Wick had of coming back."
Another youngster, Jordan Macrae headed home number three as County made a barnstorming start to the second half.
Sharp added: "Jordan has only just turned 18 and started in the team when he was 17. He has been excellent this season and we cannot fault him. It was a great header for his goal back across the 'keeper and gave him no chance."
Kenny McKenzie doubled Nairn's lead with the second of the day just after half time as he made the most of playing in a more advanced position.
Sharp said: "The defender made a mistake but Kenny was smart enough to be on to it straight away and capitalise. It was another cool finish under the 'keeper and that is what we have been lacking for the last week while - a coolness in front of goal."
Nairn restricted their hosts to few clear-cut chances all game with goalkeeper Dylan Maclean rarely tested.
"We looked strong at the back all day," assessed Sharp. "Wick had one or two half chances and maybe should have scored one more but we were always going to be a goal or two ahead at that stage of the game even if they had scored their best chances."
"Dylan Maclean's handling was excellent as well. That helps a lot as it spreads confidence throughout the team. It was a slippery surface and he never made any mistakes at all. You saw it at the other end with their 'keeper making a mistake for the fifth goal."
It could have been even better for Nairn with Gary Kerr being denied a first half goal having headed home on 18 minutes with County just the one goal to the good at the time.
Sharp said: "It was not offside and I have seen photographic evidence to prove that. It makes it worse for Gary but I will not grumble too much now, although I did at the time!"