FORMARTINE United had too much in the locker for Nairn County on the opening day of the Highland League season as the Pitmedden side eased to a comfortable win on the lush surface of North Lodge.
The visitors drew a save out of home goalkeeper Kevin Main in the first minutes of the match. A great touch by Dylan Mackenzie allowed him to control Dylan Maclean’s kick out before he slipped in Ewen Urquhart and he stung the palms of the United number one.
Dylan Maclean was called into action at the other end on three minutes with Archie Macphee the liveliest off a Formartine throw-in on the right. He turned inside but his left-footed shot was straight at the County custodian.
The hosts found their way in front with just nine minutes gone. Graeme Rodger had the time 30 yards from the Nairn goal to feed Andrew Greig down the left and his clipped delivery was met by the rising Gary Fraser, who crashed a header beyond Dylan Maclean and into the roof of the net.
United doubled their lead on 20 minutes after working the ball well down the right before feeding Archie Macphee on the edge of the box. He skipped away from two challenges before slipping in the unmarked Stuart Anderson, who clipped the ball inside the left-hand post from eight yards.
But two minutes later, County halved the deficit. Gregg Main sent the ball over the top for Dylan Mackenzie to run on to and despite starting his run behind the last defender, he got to the ball first before blasting beyond Kevin Main.
Formartine re-established their two-goal lead on 26 minutes. Graeme Rodger made a positive run from the middle of the park at the Nairn defence before playing the ball into the path of Andrew Greig, who had come inside off the left touchline. He did not have to break stride as he stepped on to the ball and guided a right-footed shot across Dylan Maclean and into the net off the far post.
United thought they had made it four on 29 minutes but the officials deemed Anderson’s header off a corner from the left had not crossed the line.
Dylan Maclean was called into action again on 37 minutes as he parried a Macphee drive after the attacker found space at the edge of the box to get a powerful left-footed shot away.
Nairn almost pulled a goal back a minute later. Gregg Main’s thumping effort from the right edge of the box was stopped by a diving save off Main and although the ball dropped at the feet of Dylan Mackenzie, he could not quite turn it home as the stopper reacted well to deny the County striker with his feet.
The home side almost added to their lead in the first few seconds of the second half but Dylan Maclean did well to tip Greig’s thunderous drive from 25 yards over the crossbar.
The County number one excelled on 50 minutes as he held Greig’s effort which looked to be destined for the net after the United wide man had been fed by a Stott pass.
Then, five minutes later, Dylan Maclean had to dive to his right to make another fine stop to keep out a stinging Greig effort after the Formartine wide man drove in from the left and unleashed a right-footed effort.
United made the points safe though on 69 minutes. Gary Fraser swung in a right-footed free kick from wide on the left that was headed up into the air by Adam Porritt at the near post. Goalkeeper Dylan Maclean was then challenged by Stuart Anderson as he went to catch the dropping ball but the referee did not deem it a foul, with the ball bouncing up on to the underside of the crossbar and landing in the net.
Formartine United – Main, Crawford, Lawrence, Anderson, McKeown, Wood, Stott, Rodger (Burnett 57), Fraser (Smith 87), Macphee, Greig (yellow 58) (Gethins 72). Subs unused: Macpherson, Lawson (y 59), Whyte, Macdonald (gk).
Nairn County – D. Maclean, Dingwall, Ramsay, Callum Maclean, Glenn Main, Porritt (yellow 71), Naismith (y 40), Urquhart (J. Maclean 46), D. Mackenzie, Gregg Main (Maclennan 59), Ewan. Subs unused: Fernandino-Soto, Ednie, Highet, Munro, Kendall (gk).
Referee – Liam Duncan.
Pictures by Donald Matheson