NAIRN County secured a top-half finish in the Highland League table and surpassed the 50-point mark with their biggest away win over Cove Rangers ever, inflicting only the second league defeat of the season on the newly-crowned Highland League champions.
Cove had a few early chances with Johnny Smith firing a 22-yard free kick low and straight at Daniel Hoban before Hamish Macleod’s delivery from the left was knocked past the far post by Nick Gray.
County called home goalkeeper John McCafferty into action on 26 minutes. Dylan Mackenzie nicked the ball off Cameron Milne wide on the right before slipping in Jordan MacRae but his powerful drive across goal was beaten away by the Cove number one.
MacRae then almost caught out McCafferty with a low free kick under the wall from 20 yards but the shot stopper managed to smuggle the ball around the post.
Nairn broke down the left on 42 minutes with MacRae delivering a low cross which was cleared by Cameron Milne at the near post.
Cove threatened four minutes into the second half with Smith’s thumping long range free kick saved by Hoban before the on-loan shot stopper tipped Gray’s follow up over the crossbar.
But Nairn took the lead on 51 minutes. MacRae lifted his head 25 yards out on the right and clipped in an out-swinging cross which found the head of Cohen Ramsay and he looped the ball into the top left-hand corner of the net.
The visitors almost made it two on 61 minutes but Dylan Mackenzie’s back post header off Adam Porritt’s clipped cross from the left was held by McCafferty. But the second goal was only delayed by another minute. Mackenzie was involved as his cross from the right was flicked on by the head of MacRae to Tom Maclennan and he cracked home a stunning volley from 25 yards.
Nairn nearly made it three on 68 minutes when Callum Maclean met Adam Naismith’s corner from the right with a downward header but the ball bounced up and inches over the crossbar.
County then struck the woodwork on 76 minutes with Jack Maclean pulling the ball back from the right to Ryan MacDonald. The ball bobbled in front of the Nairn full back and he smashed his shot off the outside of the near post.
But the visitors made it three on 79 minutes. Glenn Main made a surging run to the corner flag down the right and his low ball found Cohen Ramsay at the near post with the midfielder stabbing the ball home at the second attempt.
It almost got even better for County on 85 minutes but Adam Naismith could only sweep his shot straight into the arms of McCafferty after meeting MacDonald’s cut back.
Cove Rangers – McCafferty, Thomson, Milne, Beattie, Bell, Donald, Corthals, MacLeod, Gray (Paton 62), Smith, Kleczkowski (Joji 62). Subs unused: -.
Nairn County – Hoban, MacDonald, K. McKenzie, Callum Maclean, Glenn Main, Porritt, Naismith, Ramsay, D. Mackenzie (J. Maclean 74), MacRae, Ewan (Maclennan 26). Subs unused: Inaki Fernandino-Soto, Highet, McConaghy, Wilkie (gk).
Referee – Thomas Shaw.
Pictures by Donald Matheson