AN IMPERIOUS Nairn display saw Buckie Thistle thrashed at Victoria Park on a day when there were star performers all over the park in County blue, writes Graeme Macleod.
Adam Naismith and Alan Pollock - fresh from signing a new three-year contract during the week - returned to the County starting line-up with Paul Macleod and Kenny McKenzie dropping down to the substitutes bench.
County started as they meant to go on with the opening goal arriving with just one minute on the clock.
Pollock and Tony Wallace linked up well down the left hand side, with the latter cutting inside and able to square the ball for Robbie Duncanson to step on to and trundle a low effort into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Greg Sim in the Buckie goal was in for a busy afternoon and had to make a splendid diving save to his right just a minute later to prevent Conor Gethins from making it two after the Irish striker had connected perfectly with a first time shot off Sam Urquhart's low cross from the right.
Urquhart was denied by a combination of Sim and the crossbar on eight minutes when the attacker's rasping drive from 18 yards out just right of goal was tipped on to the woodwork by the Buckie stopper.
Duncanson won the ball back high up the park for Nairn - a trait of the visitors- play through the afternoon - and fed Gethins but the striker guided the ball just post the right-hand post from 15 yards on 11 minutes.
Buckie had a great chance to level with their first attack of the game 17 minutes in. Jay Cheyne's cross from a deep position on the right found the head of Kevin Fraser, who had ghosted in unmarked at the far post but the Thistle midfielder could only send his effort flashing across goal and beyond the post.
Nairn were back on the attack less than a minute later though and this time it was Pollock's turn to be denied by the woodwork. The midfielder met Gethins' cross from the right with a powerful header from fully 18 yards but his luck was out as the ball came back off the left-hand post with Sim beaten.
It was a breathless start to the match with County fully in control although they only had one goal to show for their domination.
Buckie began to settle down and an enterprising run by left back Shaun Wood lifted their spirits as he beat two men before blasting well over the crossbar on 25 minutes.
Two minutes later, Dennis Wyness got in behind the County defender coming in from the left but did not have the pace to see off Adam Naismith. The veteran then intelligently held the ball up on the by-line, awaiting support and when it arrived, he rolled the ball back into the path of the on-rushing Andy Low, who fired over the bar from 15 yards.
That only delayed the equaliser by a minute though as the Jags levelled on 28 minutes. Cheyne's cross from the right was allowed to drift all of the way across goal for Paul Napier to finish at the back post.
County did not let the setback knock them though and Urquhart fired over the top just a minute after the equaliser before Nairns second goal of the day arrived on 37 minutes.
Again, Wallace was involved in the build-up, as he used Pollocks overlapping run on the left as a decoy to drive inside towards the 18-yard line before working the ball square for Robbie Duncanson to curl an exquisite left-footed effort across Sim and into the top left corner of the net from the just inside the right edge of the box.
It was another flying start to the half for Nairn as they added goal number three on 46 minutes.
Urquhart retained possession on the right without looking like he was going anywhere productive before the attacker suddenly burst inside, opening up space on the flank for Callum Maclean to run into. Urquhart's pass wide for the midfielder was perfect for him clip a first time cross into the box and Tony Wallace towered above his marker to power a header back across goal and into the net before doing his own interpretation of Swansea striker Bafetimbi Gomis' goal celebration! (check the Facebook page later for photos).
By this stage, Nairn were relentless and they added a fourth on 56 minutes. Conor Gethins' deep free kick from the right found the head of Callum Maclean 10 yards out at the back post and although he attempted to put the ball back across goal, it struck the chest of Buckie defender Iain Macrae and trickled beyond the wrong-footed Sim at his near post.
Wallace tried to catch Sim out at his near post on 62 minutes as the County centre forward lifted his head to look for a cutback while at the same time, blasted the ball goalwards from a tight angle only to see it beaten away for a corner by Thistle's number one.
As much as Sim had kept his team in the game when they were 1-0 down in the first half, he cocked up on 64 minutes, gifting Nairn their fifth of the game.
His pass out from goal towards Lewis MacKinnon was too heavy, allowing Gethins to nick the ball away from the former Nairn defender before rolling it into the path of Tony Wallace, who had the time to run around the ball and clip a right-footed effort almost apologetically beyond the dive of the stranded Sim and into the right corner of the net.
Robbie Duncanson completed his hat trick on 72 minutes. The striker delightfully plucked a high ball out of the air with a superb first touch on the run in the penalty area before side stepping a defender and blasting a 15-yard howitzer with his left foot beyond Sim.
Gethins drew the goalkeeper out wide but could not quite get around the grounded stopper, so cut the ball back for the supporting Duncanson but his chip from 18 yards was mopped up on the line by the covering MacKinnon.
A pinpoint ball over the top of a beleaguered Buckie defence put substitute Ross Naismith in on goal but he could only touch the ball past the out-rushing Sim and narrowly past the post on 80 minutes.
Kenny McKenzie lifted the ball in from the left a minute later for Wallace but the striker volleyed over the crossbar when he should have headed home, although Sim was bearing down on the centre forward at high speed.
County introduced 18-year-old Jordan Macrae from the bench for a debut on 86 minutes and a minute later, Andrew Skinner won the ball on the edge of his own penalty area with a superb tackle before surging forward and picking out Urquhart on the right. His low cross was diverted over the top by the out-stretched boot of Ross Naismith at the front post in the final action of the game.
Buckie Thistle - Sim, Hodge, Wood (yellow 37) (Angus 41), Macrae (Copeland 58), MacKinnon (y 55), Hegarty, Fraser, Cheyne, Low, Wyness (Ross 67), Napier (y 79). Subs unused: Taylor, Munro, Gauld, Strong (gk).
Nairn County - Antell, Webb, A. Naismith, Morrison, Skinner (yellow 80), C. Maclean, Urquhart, Pollock, Duncanson (McKenzie 76), Gethins (R. Naismith 80), Wallace (Macrae 86). Subs unused: Halsman, Macleod, J. Maclean, D. Maclean (gk).
Referee - George Robertson.
Pictures by Donald Matheson