TWO penalty kicks saw Nairn County robbed of a win at Inverurie Locos with Neil Gauld converting twice from the spot for the hosts after the visitors had led by two goals, with the striker’s second effort coming a minute into injury time.
Nairn had a flurry of half chances early but it was their returning goalkeeper Dylan Maclean who was the first shot stopper called into action. Jordan Leyden did well on the left to find space to clip in a cross that was met by Neil Gauld’s close range header on 10 minutes. But the striker was kept out by a superb reaction block from the County number one, with Gauld then firing the follow up well off target after the ball had flown back at him.
Some superb one-touch passing between Neil Gauld and Chris Angus eight minutes later took Locos through the County defence and Angus around goalkeeper Maclean. But Adam Porritt sprinted back to make a sliding block on the goal line and prevent the former Buckie Thistle forward from finding the opener.
Another goal line clearance from Porritt kept the score line blank on 24 minutes. Joe McCabe pulled the ball back from the by-line on the right to the unmarked Neil Gauld and he swept a low shot across goal from eight yards out towards the far corner only for Porritt to boot clear.
Andy Reid in the Locos goal was required for the first time in the game on 34 minutes. Gussie Dey found Max Ewan on the edge of the box and his shot was palmed away for a corner by the diving goalkeeper, as he threw himself to his left to push the ball wide.
County opened the scoring eight minutes before the break. Porritt stepped up to a free kick 35 yards out on the left touchline and clipped an in-swinging delivery into the danger area. Callum Maclean was the man who met it as he directed the ball across goal and inside the near post to break the deadlock.
Inverurie took just two minutes of the second half to call Dylan Maclean into action again. Angus picked out the unmarked Gauld at the edge of the box with a cute pass but his stab towards goal on the stretch was kept out by the diving County shot stopper.
The hosts then struck the woodwork on 58 minutes. Stuart Duff slipped the ball wide to Joe McCabe on the right and his crisp effort across goal came back off the far post.
But County doubled their lead on 69 minutes. Max Ewan twisted and turned just outside the right edge of the box and once he had worked the space to unleash a shot, his rising effort struck the back of a defender to send the ball up into the air, looping over Reid’s head and in at the far post.
Mark Souter send a header over the crossbar for Locos 15 minutes from the end after he was first to Jordan Leyden’s free kick into the box from wide on the left. Then, four minutes later, Dylan Maclean dived at his near post to hold on to Joe McCabe’s shot from a tight angle on the right.
The home side halved the deficit from the penalty spot on 82 minutes. The ball struck Adam Porritt on the arm as he jumped in an aerial challenge with referee Mat Northcroft judging it to be a penalty. Neil Gauld then stepped up to stroke the ball home from 12 yards.
Gauld then went around Dylan Maclean just a minute later but with the striker then slightly off balance, he blasted his shot well over the crossbar with the goal gaping.
Dylan Maclean then stood tall at his near post to beat away Gauld’s powerful drive from a tight angle on the right two minutes from time.
But the home side rescued a point a minute into injury time. Chris Angus was tripped inside the penalty area allowing Neil Gauld the chance to step up again and he slammed home from the spot.
Inverurie Locos – Reid, Michie, Mitchell, Duff, Souter, Herd, McCabe, McLean (Crisp 71), Gauld, Angus, Leyden. Subs unused: Watt, Reid, Cooper, Cook (gk).
Nairn County – D. Maclean, Dingwall, K. McKenzie, Callum Maclean, Glenn Main, Porritt, MacDonald, Ramsay, D. Mackenzie (McConaghy 89), Dey (J. Maclean 76), Ewan. Subs unused: Fernandino-Soto, Maclennan, Ednie, Munro, Wilkie (gk).
Referee – Mat Northcroft.
Pictures by Donald Matheson