A GOAL out of nothing from Jordan MacRae earned Nairn County all three points against the hard-working 10 men of Strathspey Thistle, who can consider themselves unlucky not to have taken something out of the game.
Nairn made heavy weather of it and were far from their best but got there in the end through MacRae’s drive a quarter-of-an-hour from time up.
Strathspey settled quickly and just six minutes in, Ross Naismith fizzed a 22-yarder inches over the crossbar.
Five minutes later, Nairn threatened at the other end with Kenny McKenzie weaving in from the left before striking the ball against the post from a tight angle.
A goal line clearance by Lee Wilson prevented Nairn from going in front on 18 minutes. Dylan Mackenzie raced in behind the Jags’ defence and attempted to dink the ball over Thistle goalkeeper Michael MacCallum but he was denied by backtracking full back Wilson.
Strathspey’s man on the far post Dominik Edwards kept his side level nine minutes later. Adam Naismith whipped in an in-swinging corner from the left and it was flicked on by the heel of Jack Maclean but with MacCallum rooted, the ball was booted away by Edwards.
At the other end, good work down the left by Edwards led to his cross dropping to James Fraser just outside the far post. The Jags attacker then clipped it back into the danger area but the ball was headed over the top by John Cameron.
Thistle went down to 10 men on 33 minutes with Nicholas Mochan dismissed for a elbow to face of Adam Naismith.
Adam Porritt and Kenny McKenzie both fired free kicks from 25 yards straight at MacCallum as Nairn looked to make their one-man advantage count in the second half before County goalkeeper Ryan Macleod had to be alert to touch a Ross Naismith cross from the right over the crossbar.
Nairn then found the opener 15 minutes from time. MacRae did well to beat two men just inside his own half and spread the play to Ryan MacDonald on the right. He drove forward before picking out Kenny McKenzie inside and the midfielder helped the ball on to Adam Naismith. He was then able to poke it through to Jordan MacRae and County’s top scorer found a yard to turn just inside the penalty area before finding the bottom right corner of the net for his 16th goal of the season.
And the striker should have added his 17th just a minute later. A short back pass to MacCallum was latched on to by MacRae but with time to pick his spot, he attempted to clip the ball over the advancing stopper, who stood up well to make the block.
Then, MacRae played in Max Ewan on 80 minutes but his rising drive from the angle on the left was touched wide by MacCallum. From the corner that followed, the Jags stopper kept out MacRae’s close range effort.
Kenny McKenzie did well in the 90th minute to drive down the right and pick out Ewan but the young attacker put his shot across goal and well wide of the target.
Nairn County – R. Macleod, MacDonald, C. Maclean, Naismith, Glenn Main, Porritt, J. Maclean (Ewan 46), K. McKenzie, D. Mackenzie (Urquhart 66), MacRae (yellow 50), Ramsay (Fernandino-Soto 46). Subs unused: Highet, Munro, M. Macleod, Wilkie (gk).
Strathspey Thistle – McCallum, Wilson, Finnis (yellow 84), Davidson, Mainland (Reid 89), Naismith, Ross, Mochan (red 33), Edwards (Lisle 70), Fraser, Cameron. Subs unused: Ballam, Taylor, Rodriques, MacMillan,
Referee – Will Smith.
Pictures by Donald Matheson