THE new toilet block at Station Park was in action for the first time at this match but it was Nairn County’s Highland League (Morganti) Cup hopes that went down the pan as a solid Buckie Thistle performance saw the Hags into the first round proper.
A stunning effort from the impressive Andrew MacAskill put Buckie in front on the stroke of half-time before an equally-impressive Steven Ross strike doubled Thistle’s lead early on in the second half. Former Nairn attacker Sam Urquhart marked his return to action with a goal seconds after coming off the bench with Dylan Mackenzie’s late penalty kick for Nairn a mere consolation.
James Kendall was restored in goal for Nairn and he made a fine save nine minutes in. Andrew MacAskill let fly with a low effort from just outside the box which the English goalkeeper dived to his right to keep out.
Then, a minute later, Kendall denied the same Jags player by standing tall at his near post and blocking MacAskill’s effort from a tight angle on the by-line to the left of goal.
Nairn’s first effort came on 22 minutes with Tom Maclennan receiving a layoff from Gussie Dey before taking a touch to set himself and arrowing the ball inches over the crossbar from 22 yards.
Gussie Dey showed good footwork inside the right side of the box before rolling the ball into the path of Dylan Mackenzie. But his shot was superbly blocked by a sliding Buckie defender.
The Jags broke up the other end and only a great diving save from Kendall prevented Jack Maclean from scoring an own goal when the midfielder sent his mis-hit clearance goalwards. Then, MacAskill smashes the underside of the crossbar from 10 yards out with the follow-up.
But the Thistle midfielder was not to be denied as he broke the deadlock with an unstoppable strike. Andrew MacAskill stepped inside from the right and lifted his head before smashing a rocket of a shot from 22 yards into the top left-hand corner of the net to leave the diving Kendall helpless.
Nairn made a positive start to the second half but it was Buckie who found the net again to put one step in the first round of the competition as they doubled their lead on 56 minutes. Steven Ross received the ball with his back to goal five yards inside the Nairn box and needed next to no space to spin and fire the ball home via the underside of the crossbar.
That knocked the stuffing out of Nairn and Buckie added their third of the day nine minutes from time. Callum Maclean sent his clearance straight to MacAskill on the right and his low cross found its way through to Sam Urquhart, who got there ahead of the advancing Kendall to nick the ball past the County goalkeeper and squeeze the ball home from a tight angle.
Nairn grabbed a consolation in the final minute. Dylan Mackenzie weaved in along the by-line on the left before seeing his run brought to an abrupt halt by the sliding Lewis MacKinnon. The striker then stepped up the stroke the ball high and beyond Lee Herbert in the Buckie goal.
County should have pulled another goal back in the final action of the game as they broke in numbers with Ewen Urquhart racing down the left. With numbers in the middle, he found the unmarked Callum Ednie with his low cross but with time on his hands to pick his spot, he decided to take a first touch but only succeeded in letting the ball run away from him for grateful goalkeeper Herbert to collect.
Nairn County – Kendall, Dingwall, Porritt, Callum Maclean, Glenn Main (yellow 71), Maclennan (y 76), J. Maclean (Ednie 61), Ramsay, D. Mackenzie, Dey (Urquhart 61), Ewan (McConaghy 72). Subs unused: Cuthbert, Munro, D. Maclean (gk).
Buckie Thistle – Herbert, Dorrat, Morrison, MacKinnon, Wood, MacAskill, Robertson (Cowie 68), Adams, Murray, McKenna (Urquhart 79), Ross (Milne 59). Subs unused: Bruce, Strong (gk).
Referee – Paul Cummings.
Pictures By Donald Matheson.