THERE was a hat trick for Conor Gethins as a relentless attacking performance by Nairn County saw them earn another three points with a comfortable win at Lossiemouth, writes Graeme Macleod.
The number of County attacks was almost as persistent as the non-stop rain on a chilly afternoon at Grant Park with Nairn in full control from the off.
Lossiemouth hauled themselves level after going behind early on but other than that and a short spell at the start of the second half prior to Nairn going 3-1 up, the Coasters were never in it.
Adam Naismith returned to the Nairn County team to take the injured Glenn Main's place in the only change from last weekend's starting eleven.
The game got off to a flying start with three goals in the opening 10 minutes.
County broke the deadlock on six minutes thanks to a neat little move involving Tony Wallace and Conor Gethins. The former Morton centre forward played the ball into his strike partner's feet and six yards out, he back-heeled it into the stride on the on-running Sam Urquhart, who tucked it past Darren McConnachie to score the 1000th Nairn County goal of Les Fridge's time as manager.
Less than a minute later, Lossiemouth levelled things. Ross Archibald angled a precise shot across Calum Antell from 15 yards out on the left and the ball nestled in the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Nairn were back in front with just 10 minutes gone though. Wallace was the man who again provided the penetration as his low pass forward found the unmarked Conor Gethins on the edge of the box. With the home defence appealing for offside, the Irish striker wasted no time in stroking the ball beyond McConnachie.
A Kenny McKenzie throw-in on 27 minutes was flicked to Robbie Duncanson by a neat touch from Wallace but his curling, right-footed shot from the left edge of the box was held by McConnachie.
The woodwork prevented Wallace from grabbing the goal his first half performance deserved on 29 minutes. The towering forward tried to curl a low effort from 15 yards with his left foot into the far corner. The effort struck a defender and came back to the attacker but at the second time of asking, his effort rolled across goal and came out off the far post.
A great move two minutes later again saw Wallace denied. It started with Gethins' first time pass on the halfway line at the left touchline, which sent McKenzie haring down the wing. He lifted his head to cut the ball back into the path of Wallace but the striker's first time drive from 12 yards was saved.
A wonder save from McConnachie prevented Gethins from doubling his tally with a tremendous 35-yard volley on 33 minutes. The Irish striker hit a free kick at goal but it spun off the wall and back to County's top scorer, who showed great technique to shape himself and send a dipping volley towards the top corner only for McConnachie to back-pedal in enough time to make an athletic stop.
As much as that was all that was good about the striker, it was the opposite end of the spectrum two minutes later when he was put clean through on goal by a Duncanson flick and with time to pick his spot, he somehow sliced his effort well went of the target from only six yards out.
Adam Naismith fed Duncanson on 39 minutes with a ball into the stride of the striker advancing into the box from the left but the angled shot that he hit first time was held.
After a bit of a shaky start to the second half, County settled in the perfect way by putting daylight between the sides for the first time with their third goal of the afternoon on 56 minutes. Gethins' raking pass out to the left found McKenzie and he delivered a precise low cross between the back-tracking defender at the front post and the goalkeeper to pick out Conor Gethins and this time he made no mistake as he took a touch to set himself before knocking home his second goal of the game from close range.
Some great skill from Urquhart on 62 minutes saw him weave through two defenders before picking out Gethins with a cutback from the right but the striker dragged his effort past the far post as he went in search of his hat trick.
A minute later, County had a fourth. A ball back into the box after a Nairn corner had been cleared was not properly dealt with, as the ball dropped to the unmarked Robbie Duncanson coming in from the left and from 20 yards out, the striker lashed the ball across McConnachie and into the far corner.
A great solo run by substitute Alan Pollock almost resulted in County adding a fifth. The midfielder raced in on goal, outpacing a defender but his attempt to lift the ball over McConnachie was blocked by the goalkeeper's chest on 80 minutes.
That fifth goal arrived just two minutes later though. Lossie defender Chris Ross was all over Wallace as the County centre forward tried to reach a ball into the box from the left with his head and referee Chris Phillips pointed to the penalty spot. Conor Gethins made no mistake from 12 yards as he blasted home straight down the middle to complete his hat trick.
Wallace was denied twice in quick succession late on. Firstly, he drove into the box and was denied by a last gasp sliding tackle from Ross, who just did enough to poke the ball past the post avoiding an own goal by a matter of inches and then the forward struck the outside of the post from a tight angle with a first time effort after being picked out by a deep Duncanson cross from the right.
Lossiemouth - McConnachie, Stewart (Campbell 67), Bellingham, Ross, Flett, Gordon, R. Farquhar, Miller, Archibald, Green (Scott 63), Duguid (yellow 52) (Monteiro 76). Subs unused: Hamilton, Bell, Main, C. Farquhar.
Nairn County - Antell, Webb, A. Naismith (P. Macleod 85), Morrison, Skinner, C. Maclean, McKenzie, Wallace, Duncanson, Gethins (R. Naismith 88), Urquhart (Pollock 75). Subs unused: Gregg Main, Halsman, Macrae.
Referee - Chris Phillips.
Pictures by Donald Matheson