IT seemed unthinkable at half time that Nairn County would be looking at anything other than three points from today's derby match at Forres Mechanics. But the visitors' inability to deal with two corner kicks and a string of missed first-half chances cost them dearly as the hosts were gifted a point, writes Graeme Macleod.
Dominant County were in complete control at the interval after cruising into a two-goal lead at the interval. But a goal just after half time gave Forres a lift and they levelled shortly after the hour-mark.
Glenn Main played a well-hoisted ball forward from right back that Alan Pollock controlled before turning inside and on to his left foot. The midfielder's delivery on two minutes was slid past the front post by Sam Urquhart.
Urquhart then raced in along the by-line after working a short corner with Robbie Duncanson five minutes in. The attacker's cut back found John Cameron but he was leaning back as he stepped on to the ball for a first time shot and fired well over from 10 yards out at the front post.
The visitors made their early dominance pay by opening the scoring eight minutes in. Michael Morrison was alert enough to pick out Andrew Skinner at the halfway line on the left touchline when the County skipper met a Forres clearance. The full back played a great ball into the box for Pollock to run on to unattended. The midfielder should have scored after he took the ball into his stride and struck for goal from 10 yards but was denied by the legs of Forres goalkeeper Stuart Knight. Glenn Main was the first man on the scene though as he strode on to coolly place the ball in the bottom left hand corner.
County continued to dominate and look comfortable without testing Knight until they doubled their lead on 28 minutes. Main gained an assist this time as he took the ball in on the right touchline from a Duncanson pass before whipping a cross into the box and John Cameron sprinted across his marker to flash a header inside Knight's left hand post.
A great kick out from Calum Antell on 33 minutes found Andrew Skinner in plenty of space on the left wing. The full back's pass put Urquhart in on goal but the striker hesitated, allowing Graham Fraser the chance to recover and apply enough pressure to force the Nairn man into firing well over the crossbar from 18 yards.
The best Forres could muster in the first half was a Stuart Soane header off a Gordon Finlayson out-swinging free kick from right that went well wide of the near post on 39 minutes.
The lively Sam Urquhart almost added County's third on 44 minutes after the forward outstripped Fraser for pace chasing a ball over the top of the Forres backline before seeing his low drive go beyond Knight and come back off the base of the post.
Despite their complete dominance of the first half, County conceded just two minutes after the restart. Drew Howard whipped in Forres' first corner of the afternoon with an out-swinger from the right that was met by the unmarked Graham Fraser, who was free to power a header beyond the helpless Antell.
Forres completed a comeback that never looked likely at half time just 18 minutes after the restart. Again, it was a Howard corner which was the source as his deep delivery found Chris Blackett at the far post. He knocked the ball back inside to Stuart Soane, who saw his first time effort blocked on the line by Michael Morrison but the blew dropped to the feet of Lee Fraser and he knocked home the rebound.
County almost regained the lead midway through the second half when Robbie Duncanson picked out Morrison coming in from the left and after his first shot was blocked by Knight, the skipper fired the rebound well over the crossbar.
Lee Fraser's knock down on 84 minutes fed Fraser Forbes and Antell had to look smart to turn the sub's angled drive behind for a corner.
At the other end, Conor Gethins beat Soane on the by-line on the right hand side but the striker's cross was just too far behind Tony Wallace for the attacker to turn home on the volley.
Forres Mechanics - Knight, Smith (yellow 83), Grant, G. Fraser (Hutcheson 77), MacPherson (y 90+1), L. Fraser, Blackett (Forbes 73), McGovern, Finlayson, Howard, Soane. Subs unused: S. Fraser, Brown, MacIver, Paterson.
Nairn County - Antell, Skinner, Glenn Main, Morrison (yellow 71), Webb (y 76), Mackintosh (Gregg Main 80) (y 83), C. Maclean, Pollock, Duncanson (Gethins 80), Cameron (Wallace 70) (y 90+1), Urquhart. Subs unused: P. Macleod, McKenzie, D. Maclean (gk).
Referee - Craig Wilson.