TWO second half goals were Nairn County's undoing as Formartine United took all three points in a frantic encounter at Station Park.
There was no shortage of endeavour from the hosts but United's extra class in the final third helped them on their way to what could turn out to be a crucial three points come the end of the season.
A slick passing move by Nairn County from in front of the stand on the halfway line saw the ball worked out to the right wing via a series of triangle passes on five minutes with Wayne Mackintosh cutting the ball back for Ross Naismith to run on to but the stretching midfielder fired over the crossbar.
Returning striker Conor Gethins stepped up to take a free kick from 22 yards out at a spot from where he scored numerous goals in the colours of Nairn but this time he was denied by Dylan Maclean's save.
Two minutes later at the other end, the Irishman's successor on set piece duty for Nairn, Ross Naismith stepped up from a similar distance but his effort brushed the roof of the net on its way over.
Nairn threatened again on the half-hour through Mackintosh and from a tight angle, his effort was touched past the near post by Andy Reid in the Formartine goal.
Gethins had another sight of goal on 35 minutes but he dragged his low drive from 15 yards out on the right across goal and comfortably past the post.
The visitors found an opener on 56 minutes though. Johnny Crawford played a long ball forward from just outside the right edge of the centre circle which Scott Barbour latched on to and the tricky winger escaped the clutches of Paul Macleod and drilled a low effort inside Maclean's left-hand post from 15 yards.
County looked to respond seven minutes later as Callum Maclean net a Naismith corner from the right with a free header but he was up too early and headed the ball into the ground. The ball dropped to the midfielder and he then fired his shot over the bar.
Naismith was the source for Nairn again on 66 minutes as his cross found Jordan Macrae but the ball was just a inch or two behind the jumping attacker and he could only loop his header over the top.
The visitors responded four minutes later through a Garry Wood shot from the left edge of the box that was prevented from sneaking inside the near post by Maclean's sprawling save.
But the next Wood shot led to Formartine's killer second goal. The centre forward's curling effort towards the bottom right hand corner was parried by the diving Maclean but Graeme Rodger was the first man on the scene to bundle home the rebound.
Nairn County - D. Maclean, S. Mackenzie (Barron 76), P. Macleod, Riddell, Mackintosh, Naismith (Mackay 81), C. Maclean, Kerr, Macrae (D. Mackenzie 76), J. Maclean (yellow 46), Glenn Main. Subs unused: Moir, Morganti, Ednie, R. Macleod (gk).
Formartine United - Reid, Dingwall, Smith, Lawson (yellow 85), Henry, Crawford, Rodger, Anderson (Young 81) (y 84), Gethins (Berton 73), Wood, Barbour. Subs unused: Michie, McVitie, Jamieson, Macdonald (gk).
Referee - Ben Dempster.