A THIRD 4-1 defeat in four Highland League outings so far this season saw Nairn County go down to Forres Mechanics with Andrew McRae executioner-in-chief with a hat-trick on a tough afternoon at Mosset Park.
It was an unfamiliar-looking Nairn team with Craig Munro debuting while Inaki Fernandino-Soto, Danny Highet and James Kendall all came in for their first starts of the season while youngsters Seamus McConaghy, Joe Cuthbert, Cameron Maclean and Ryan MacBean were called up from the under-20s squad to take places on the bench.
The hosts went in front 12 minutes in. Stuart Soane stopped Dylan Mackenzie in his tracks as he looked to drive at the Forres defence before finding Alan Pollock on the left touchline at the halfway line. A touch of class from the midfielder saw him play a cross-field pass to put Allan MacPhee in behind Inaki Fernandino-Soto down the Forres right and the midfielder drove inside before pulling the ball back to Andrew McRae for a tap in.
Pollock had threatened the Nairn goal before the opener with a low shot from the edge of the box that was scooped up by Kendall. The wide man called the English shot stopper into action again on 25 minutes after spinning just inside the box and blasting a shot that the goalkeeper held.
But Forres went two in front on 27 minutes. Stuart Soane slipped a through pass forward that Andrew McRae ran on to and with the Nairn defence static, the lively forward coolly rounded Kendall before rolling the ball into the net.
Nairn were unfortunate not to half the deficit six minutes before the break. Adam Naismith whipped in an out-swinging free kick from the right that was met by the head of Dylan Mackenzie. But the ball bounced down off the underside of the crossbar, dropping on the goal line before being gathered by Stuart Knight in the Forres goal.
The crossbar came to Forres’s rescue again on 41 minutes. The ball broke to Cohen Ramsay in the box and his looping right-footed effort had Knight beaten but the ball came back off the face of the bar.
McRae was denied his hat-trick by Kendall on 51 minutes. The forward ran on to Duncanson’s header on before blasting goalwards from the angle on the right but his effort was diverted behind by the left arm of the Nairn goalkeeper at his near post.
Kendall then stood tall just outside his box to keep out McRae again with his chest on 56 minutes after the forward had latched on to Glenn Main’s short header back to the keeper.
But it was Nairn who scored next as they pulled a goal back on 61 minutes. Ryan MacDonald’s clearance sent Max Ewan racing towards goal and he superbly lifted the ball over Knight’s head at the edge of the penalty area with the ball dropping into the net.
That gave the visitors a lift as they looked to push on for an equaliser but Forres made the points safe with their third of the game 10 minutes later. Duncanson collected the ball 20 yards from the by-line out on the left and was able to clip an in-swinging cross to the far post for Andrew McRae to run on to and side foot home a volley.
The hosts added another goal 15 minutes from time. Cohen Ramsay was dispossessed on the left touchline halfway up the park with Liam Taylor running on to the forward pass to advance in on Kendall before rolling home the hosts’ fourth of the afternoon.
County almost pulled another back immediately but Ewan’s low drive from the angle on the right rolled across goal and inches beyond the far post.
Young substitute Seamus McConaghy almost bagged his first Nairn County goal after being picked out by Dylan Mackenzie just inside the right edge of the box. But his rising drive was tipped over by Knight at the near post.
Pollock was denied by Kendall again at the other end in the third minute of injury time with the County goalkeeper getting down well to his left to claw away a net-bound drive from the impressive midfielder.
Forres Mechanics – Knight, Allan (Stuart 59), Moore, Milne, Pollock, McGovern, McRae, MacPhee (yellow 23) (Taylor 68), Duncanson (Paterson 79), Howarth, Soane. Subs unused: Fraser, Brown (gk).
Nairn County – Kendall, Naismith, Fernandino-Soto (Ednie 74), Glenn Main, Munro, Ramsay, MacDonald (yellow 68), Urquhart, D. Mackenzie, Highet (McConaghy 56), Ewan. Subs unused: Cuthbert, Cameron Maclean, MacBean, D. Maclean (gk).
Referee – Alan Proctor.
Pictures by Donald Matheson