A DISAPPOINTING night at Station Park saw Nairn County shoot themselves in the foot every time they threatened to get back into this evening's 5-2 reverse to Huntly as the visitors climbed up to fifth in the Highland League table.
The first chance went the way of the Black and Golds just a minute in and they were unfortunate not to go in front. Nairn could only half clear a cross in from the right and the ball broke to Gary McGowan at the edge of the box with the Huntly danger man fizzing a first time just past the right-hand post from 20 yards out.
But Huntly grabbed an opener on six minutes. The visitors were awarded a soft free kick wide on the right for a slight nudge by Adam Porritt which never looked a foul and Paul Napier stepped up to float an out-swinging ball over the head of Stephen Foster and in at the far post.
County looked to respond on 12 minutes but Craig Reid in the Huntly goal did well to dive to his left and keep a hold of Ross Naismith's long range effort.
Then, three minutes later, Ross Naismith whipped in an inviting, out-swinging free kick from deep on the right that was met by Gary Kerr's boot at the far post but he sent the ball sailing over the crossbar under pressure from Kieran Adams.
A short Ross Naismith free kick fed Cohen Ramsay at the right corner of the box but his left-footed shot across goal was clutched out of the air by the diving Reid.
Adam Naismith then cleared against the approaching Dennis Wyness in the penalty area and the veteran striker redirected the ball beyond Foster and just past the post.
Huntly doubled their advantage 31 minutes in. Wyness flicked the ball through for Michael Ewen, who had ran in behind the County defence and with the hosts looking for an offside flag, the substitute took a touch to set himself before blasting an angled drive across Foster and into the net from eight yards out on the right.
The woodwork prevented Nairn from falling further behind two minutes later with Gary McGowan smashing a first time shot off the underside of the crossbar from 15 yards.
The home side halved the deficit four minutes into the second half. Dylan Mackenzie raced in behind Kieran Adams and was bundled over in the penalty area by the Huntly defender. Jordan MacRae did the rest as he sent Reid the wrong way from the penalty spot.
The home side's tails were up but Huntly stung them at the other end as they put daylight between the sides again on 62 minutes. Napier whipped in an out-swinging free kick from the right and Michael Clark out-muscled the County defence as he thumped home a header from six yards.
And the night got worse for Nairn two minutes later. A quick free kick from the touchline on the left was only partially cleared by Liam MacDonald, with Gary McGowan blasting the loose ball into the top right-hand corner from 20 yards.
But Nairn pulled a goal on 66 minutes. Adams miscued a header sending Jack Maclean in on goal but his shot was diverted for a corner by the feet of Reid. From the resulting Ross Naismith set piece, the goalkeeper dropped the ball to the feet of Gary Kerr and although his shot was blocked on the goal line, Jack Maclean bundled the ball home.
It took Huntly just a minute to go three goals in front again though. Dennis Wyness was unmarked at the far post to meet a deep Napier cross from the right and he met it with a looping header that went across Foster and dropped into the far corner.
Nairn County - Foster, J. Maclean (Ednie 75), Ramsay, A. Naismith, Glenn Main, Porritt, R. Naismith, L. MacDonald, Kerr (yellow 88), MacRae (Trialist 75), D. Mackenzie. Subs unused: Ewan, M. Macleod, Cuthbert, Cameron Maclean, D. Maclean (gk).
Huntly - Reid, Donald (yellow 80), Johnston (y 48), Andrews (y 78), Adams (y 48), Clark (y 57), Napier (Roddie 73), Murison, Wyness (McKeown 86), McGowan, Still (y 20) (Ewen 29). Subs unused: Ritchie, Farquhar (gk).
Referee - Harry Bruce.
Pictures by Donald Matheson.