NAIRN County's Scottish Cup adventure ended at Arbroath in agonising circumstances as the League Two leaders progressed at the expense of the brave Highland League side, who were left curising some dubious refereeing decisions, writes Graeme Macleod.
Despite Nairn making a positive start to the match it was the hosts took the lead 22 minutes in when Wayne Mackintosh was adjudged to have fouled Simon Murray in the penalty area. It was a harsh decision on the County midfielder, who appeared to take the ball before making contact with the man.
Paul McManus stepped up to beat Calum Antell from 12 yards despite the Nairn goalkeeper going the right way.
This gave Arbroath a lift and they had Nairn on the back foot for long spells in what remained of the first half although all of the chances they created resulted in routine saves by Antell.
In the second half, Nairn threw off the shackles and took the game to their hosts in search of an equaliser and they should have been rewarded on 64 minutes.
The impressive Alan Pollock weaved his way down the right and cut the ball back into the penalty area. The Arbroath defence failed to deal with it and Glenn Main rolled it into the path of Robbie Duncanson, who squeezed an angled shot between the defender on the far post and the goalkeeper but Nairn's joy was cut short by the linesman's flag, raised because of an apparent offside.
Arbroath then rubbed salt into the wound by doubling their lead just two minutes later as Scott McBride rose highest in the penalty area to meet a corner kick from the right with a towering header that left Antell rooted to the spot.
County continued to pour forward though and this left gaps at the back which the home side threatened to expose but errant finishing and some smart stops by Antell kept the deficit at two.
Nairn got their rewards two minutes from time when Sean Webb was able to force the ball over the line from a yard out following a goalmouth scramble.
The visitors managed to get the ball into the box in the few minutes that remained but it would not drop kindly to a Nairn player as Arbroath held on to progress.
Pictures by Donald Matheson.