STUART Finnie believes the depth of his under-20s squad is getting stronger year-on-year as they went to Alness United and came away with a convincing 4-1 victory on the same night as a first team match that included a number of players who could have been turning out in Finnie’s team.
The visitors went ahead when a high press saw Lewis Mitchell win the ball back before finding Ryan MacBean, who took a great touch inside from the left and blasted the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Nairn almost doubled their lead when Mitchell played a neat one-two with MacBean on the edge of the box but the midfielder could not quite find the finish.
Craig McDermott was judged by the linesman to have committed a foul with a push on the box on 55 minutes but Alness missed from the penalty spot with the ball sent wide of Fraser Wilkie’s goal.
Nairn doubled their lead 20 minutes from time with substitute Sean McWilliams picking out MacBean with a ball up the line. He then played it inside to Eadie, who teed up Joe Cuthbert with the skipper blasting home with his left foot from just inside the box.
Alness pulled one back from a corner five minutes later but a late Nairn double salvo secured the points.
Substitute Ciaran Young turned well in the penalty area and saw his shot saved by the goalkeeper but Tyler Eadie was on hand to tuck home the rebound.
Then, Mitchell advanced down the left before cutting the ball back to Joe Cuthbert, who took a touch to set himself before firing rising, left-footed effort beyond the goalkeeper.
Finnie said: “I am happier with our performance. The result was irrelevant but there was a much better hunger and desire and that is what I wanted to see.
“It shows the strength of the squad we have now that we can go somewhere like Alness with a full compliment on the same night as a first team game and put in a performance like this. I know other teams in the league in the past have called under-20s games off under similar circumstances because they do not have all their best players available but we are all about giving everyone a chance to play and those who came in tonight really did their bit.
“We also took Euan Logan up with us from the under-17s and although he never made the squad, it is important to get the players who are doing well for the 17s some experience of being in and around the under-20s squad.”
He added: “I really wanted a clean sheet tonight but it was not to be but the boys showed some defiance in wanting to get their blocks in and trying not to let them get shots away.
“Although the score line was 4-1, the game was much closer than that. They had chances as we all and fortunately for us, they never took them. I am pleased with the goals we scored as they were well worked and well taken. It was good to see some good finishes and build-up play. Everyone put a good shift in and although I know we can give more and still play better, it was a big improvement from Saturday and Mark (Greig, coach) and I now have something to build on with the boys getting more confidence as well.
“The boys should be happy with their night but we now go again and get ready for Lossiemouth a week on Monday.”
Nairn County – Wilkie, Davidson, McDermott, Cameron Maclean, Campbell (Robertson 65), Cuthbert, Hallam (McWilliams 65), Mitchell, Eadie (Cruden 80), MacBean (Young 75), J. W. Maclean (Wheeler 55). Subs unused: -.