SLICK Brora Rangers eased their way to three points at Station Park and although the final outcome never looked in any doubt from the moment player-manager Steven Mackay prodded the visitors in front, the size of the score line can be considered harsh on Ronnie Sharp’s side.
Brora had all the early possession but Nairn had an opening on seven minutes when Ewen Urquhart intercepted a slack Colin Williamson pass and nudged the ball into the path of Dylan Mackenzie. But his effort was deflected past for a corner.
James Kendall in the Nairn goal was called into action on 14 minutes when James Ross delivered a deep cross from the right that was acrobatically directed back across goal by Steven Mackay at the far post. Dale Gillespie ran on to it in the middle but from close range, the midfielder was denied the opener by a block from the goalkeeper.
Paul Brindle wriggled inside Adam Porritt on the left 29 minutes in to open up his body for a shot. But his curling effort with the inside of his right foot was superbly kept out by a strong wrist from the diving Kendall.
The visitors found an opener seven minutes before the interval. After a Brora corner kick had been cleared, Ally MacDonald delivered an out-swinging cross from deep on the left that slipped through the arms of the advancing Kendall and dropped for Steven Mackay to prod home.
There was controversy in first half injury time when Brora Rangers goalkeeper Joe Malin carried the ball two yards outside the right side of his box but despite it being on the linesman’s side, it was completely missed by referee Gordon Seago and his standside assistant, neither of whom will reflect on their overall display with much fondness.
Kendall advanced from his line to thwart Brindle on 50 minutes but less than a minute later, the ball was in the Englishman’s net again. It all came from a Nairn attack as the hosts gave the ball away cheaply with MacDonald advancing down the left before swinging across an inviting delivery. And there was the unmarked Steven Mackay to steer a header into the Nairn net for his second goal of the night.
A Paul Brindle cross from the left clipped Kendall’s far post on 74 minutes before Nairn broke up the park and substitute Adam Naismith could only scoop a Max Ewan cut back from the left over the crossbar from 15 yards out.
The visitors almost increased their lead 10 minutes from the end with Ally MacDonald racing on to a ball down the left. But his low blast across goal flew inches the wrong side of the far post.
But Brora added a third on 84 minutes. Brindle looked to be standing in an offside position when a cleared Cattachs’ corner was recycled but the standside linesman yet again went in favour of the visitors at a marginal call, keeping the flag down and allowing the former Clach striker to get his shot away. Kendall made the block but Nick Ross was on hand to tap in the rebound.
It got worse for the hosts two minutes later after Kendall made a superb diving block to deny Mackay his hat-trick off sub Kyle Macleod’s cross with Paul Brindle fastened on to the loose ball to blast home.
The imperious Mackay almost completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute as he waltzed his way into the box. But he could only side foot the ball wide.
Nairn County – Kendall, Dingwall, K. McKenzie, Callum Maclean, Glenn Main (yellow 59), Maclennan (McConaghy 48), Porritt, Urquhart (Naismith 72), D. Mackenzie, Ramsay, Ewan. Subs unused: Dey, Ednie, Munro, D. Maclean (gk).
Brora Rangers – Malin, Ross, MacDonald, Williamson, Pickles, Morrison, Brindle, Gillespie, Sutherland (Macleod 75), Mackay (yellow 57), Ross (Docherty 86). Subs unused: Maclean, Campbell, Calder, D. McCarthy (gk).
Referee – Gordon Seago.
Pictures by Donald Matheson.