A PREDATORY double from Conor Gethins earned Nairn County all three points in an efficient display against Keith at Kynoch Park, writes Graeme Macleod.
County boss Les Fridge was forced into four changes with Michael Morrison, Sean Webb, Kenny McKenzie and Alan Pollock all unavailable for a variety of reasons. Adam Naismith, Bradley Halsman, Sam Urquhart and the recalled Paul Macleod all returned to the starting line-up.
The visitors took the lead with the first shot on goal of the game 14 minutes in. Conor Gethins was already on his bike when Gregg Main swung back his right boot on the halfway line by the right touch line to send an inviting ball over the static Keith defence. The striker latched on to his team mate’s pass before advancing in on Daniel Bell’s goal and arrowing a pin point drive across the goalkeeper and into the far corner from eight yards.
Gethins almost doubled his tally on 25 minutes with a curling free kick from 24 yards which drew out a fine diving from Bell, who threw himself to the left to touch the ball past the post.
The home side had their first sight of goal two minutes later when a corner from the right was headed on to Bruce Milne at the back post but the full back blazed his effort well over the bar.
Gregg Main then picked out John Cameron with a cross field pass on 32 minutes which the County wide man chested down into his path. He unselfishly cut the ball back to Gethins and the Irish striker shimmied past a defender before seeing his shot deflected into the welcoming arms of Bell.
The hosts almost drew level on 37 minutes when Michael Ralton’s free kick into the box was flicked on by Michael Dunn but the ball dropped past the post.
Sam Urquhart then prodded the ball through for strike partner Gethins who knocked it beyond the out-rushing Bell at the edge of the box but his effort trickled agonisingly past the post.
It was roles reversed three minutes before the break as Gethins held off the attentions of Michael Dunn with his back to goal and rolled the ball into the path of Urquhart racing in from the left. The lively forward’s snap shot from a tight angle had to be touched away by Bell to prevent his side from falling further behind.
Gethins added his second with 57 minutes played. Robbie Duncanson was afforded the space to lift his head and have a pop at goal from 25 yards. His swerving effort caused Bell no end of problems as he could only parry the ball straight at Gethins who composed himself before rifling beyond the Keith goalkeeper.
Michael Dunn was then unmarked at the far post to meet Scott Whelan’s deep free kick but the centre half headed wide when he should have hit the target.
Craig Cormack’s cross from the right on 80 minutes deflected off Adam Naismith and rattled Calum Antell’s near post in the closest the home side came to pulling one back before Dunn’s header bounced off the crossbar in injury time.
Keith – Bell, Hutcheon (McDonald 76), Ralton, Pugh, Dunn, Milne (yellow 40), Cormack, Whelan (Ritchie 76), Ewen, Duncan, Smith (Massie 67). Subs unused: Stewart, Johnston, Henderson, Dey (gk).
Nairn County – Antell, Skinner (yellow 68), A. Naismith, Glenn Main, P. Macleod (C. Maclean 61), Gregg Main (y 50), Halsman, Cameron, Duncanson (Mackintosh 88), Gethins, Urquhart (R. Naismith 87). Subs unused: Trialist, Munro, M. Macleod, D. Maclean (gk).
Referee – Ben Dempster.
Pictures courtesy of Donald Matheson