THREE cross balls proved to be Nairn County’s undoing in Gregg Main’s Testimonial Match against Ross County at Station Park. The man mountain Liam Fontaine helped himself to a second-half double after the similarly-powerful Ross Draper had headed home the opener before the interval.
The visitors found some joy down the right early on with the lively Josh Mullin putting across some inviting deliveries but Nairn goalkeeper Dylan Maclean displayed some good handling to cut them out and make the ball stick to his gloves.
Maclean was called into action to make the first real save of the game on 14 minutes as the home number one palmed Ross Draper’s thumping effort from 25 yards over the crossbar.
The visitors went close again on 20 minutes but Sean Kelly’s first-time volley from an angle on the left flashed across goal and past the far post after the full back had met a raking pass from the middle of the park.
Some nice interlinking play by the visitors on 27 minutes fed Mullin eight yards out from goal to the right but the wide man smashed his rising shot into the side netting.
Nairn played a short corner on 31 minutes with Kenny McKenzie then skipping into the penalty area and being eased to the deck by a visiting defender but nothing was doing with referee Stuart Riddoch.
Ross County took the lead 11 minutes before half-time and it was third time lucky for the visitors with two chances previously going abegging. Davis Keillor-Dunn’s right-footed effort from just inside the left-edge of the box deflected past the far post. The corner kick which followed was cleared to Dylan Dykes and his thunderous effort from 30 yards was touched over by Dylan Maclean. Then, Sean Kelly delivered a corner kick which Ross Draper met with a downward header at the far post. And the ball bounced up into the net to put the Staggies in front.
A breakdown in communication between Tom Maclennan and Inaki Fernandino-Soto almost led to Ross County doubling their lead as the Nairn pair presented the ball to Billy McKay. The Northern Irishman raced in behind the home defence and clipped a shot past debutant goalkeeper James Kendall from the right. But the ball came back off the inside of the far post and was clutched by the English shot stopper.
A nice move by Nairn on 61 minutes almost brought about an equaliser. Maclennan pinged the ball out to Ewen Urquhart on the left and he fed the on-rushing Cohen Ramsay. But his low drive was clutched by Ross Munro at the goalkeeper’s near post.
A minute later, Ross County doubled their lead. Liam Fontaine rose highest at the far post to meet Keith Watson’s deep cross from the left with the former Hibernian centre half looping home a header.
After Michael Gardyne fired a trio of efforts off target, Liam Fontaine showed him how it was done with his second of the afternoon on 78 minutes. The defender out-jumped his marker again at the far post, this time to meet Tony Dingwall’s clipped, out-swinging free kick from the right with a header that flew past Kendall.
The Championship side almost added a fourth, two minutes from the end but Kendall was equal to Declan McManus’s thump from the edge of the box, which took a deflection before being beaten away by the shot stopper.
Nairn County – D. Maclean (Kendall 46), Naismith (J. Maclean 46), Ednie (Fernandino-Soto 46), C. Maclean, Glenn Main (Munro 68), Porritt (Maclennan 46), MacDonald (Ramsay 46), Gregg Main (Cuthbert 78), D. Mackenzie (Urquhart 46), MacRae (Ewan 46), K. McKenzie. Subs unused: -.
Ross County – Fox (Munro 46), Fraser (R. Dingwall 46), Morris (Watson 46), Dykes, Kelly (Fontaine 46), Mullin (Demetriou 46), Draper (T. Dingwall 46), Paton (Lindsay 46), Keillor-Dunn (Gardyne 46), Dow (McKay 46), Morrison (McManus 46). Subs unused: -.
Referee – Stuart Riddoch.