A BLUNDER by Forres Mechanics goalkeeper Stuart Knight handed hard-working Nairn County the only goal of their semi final victory at Mosset Park, writes Graeme Macleod.
The result takes the County into the final of the Menzies Distribution North of Scotland Cup for the seventh time in 10 years where they will face Wick Academy on Saturday October 10th at a venue still to be confirmed.
There were two changes to the team defeated at Fraserburgh on Saturday as goalkeeper Calum Antell returned between the posts while Paul Macleod was selected at centre half replacing the unavailable Sean Webb.
Forres goalkeeper Stuart Knight scooped up Conor Gethins' glancing header from the edge of the box in County’s first foray forward after the Irish striker connected with Robbie Duncanson’s out-swinging free kick from the right.
County went even closer to opening the scoring from the same source a few minutes later. This time it was John Cameron on the end of Duncanson’s delivery but his glancing header clipped the outside of the post with Knight beaten.
Calum Antell kept Nairn level on 23 minutes as he threw himself to his left to keep out Lee Fraser’s close range effort after a deep Simon Allan free kick from the right had been kept alive at the far post.
It was Antell to the rescue again two minutes later as the former Hibernian stopper thwarted Liam Baxter after the Forres striker had been played through one-on-one by a Paul Smith pass.
John Cameron’s cross from the right in first half injury time had Knight scrambling but the goalkeeper managed to make a vital touch to keep the ball out and Gethins could not quite force home the loose ball.
County pressed forward after the break winning a series of corners and got their reward 10 minutes after the turnaround. Glenn Main played a big up-and-under from the right touchline at the halfway line that seemed an easy catch for Knight. The ball slipped through the goalkeeper’s hands though and dropped to Cameron, who managed to squeeze it across for Conor Gethins to blast home his 150th County goal.
Gethins then slipped the ball into the path of Cameron on 66 minutes but his shot from the edge of the box was easily gathered by Knight.
Ross MacPherson had a free run on 68 minutes to meet Duncan Jones’s inviting cross from the right but the midfielder sent the ball over the top when he should have hit the target.
County broke forward in injury time with sub Sam Urquhart racing in on goal from the left but his powerful drive was touched over the crossbar by Knight.
Forres Mechanics - Knight, Smith (yellow 40) (S. Fraser 71), Allan (Forbes 89), Grant, MacPherson, L. Fraser, McGovern, Jones, Baxter, Khutsishvili, Finlayson. Subs unused: Howard, Hutcheson, Simpson (gk).
Nairn County - Antell, Glenn Main, Naismith (yellow 27), Morrison, P. Macleod, Gregg Main, C. Maclean (Mackintosh 28 (y 34)), Pollock, Duncanson, Gethins (Urquhart 81), Cameron. Subs unused: Halsman, Skinner, D. Maclean (gk).
Referee: Graham Fraser