A FRUSTRATING afternoon at Station Park almost saw stubborn Rothes earn a point at Nairn County with a late Conor Gethins effort just enough to see the hosts home by the odd goal in three, writes Graeme Macleod.
Paul Macleod came back into the starting line-up to replace the unavailable Adam Naismith in the only change to the team from last weekend's win at Lossiemouth.
A neat through pass by Tony Wallace in the second minute sent Conor Gethins in on goal but Rothes goalkeeper, Matthew Mackie was quick off his line to close down the Irish striker and make a save at the edge of his box.
Mackie was called into action again eight minutes later when he had to make a smart diving save to his left to keep out a Wallace header off a Sam Urquhart cross from the right.
County eventually broke down the Rothes resistance 28 minutes in. A Michael Morrison free kick from just inside the Rothes half was nodded down by Sean Webb for Sam Urquhart to run on to and knock past Mackie from close range.
Rothes were back on level terms just three minutes later. A deep Jack Lingard free kick into the box from the right was flicked on by Craig MacMillan. Paul Macleod failed to deal with the ball as it dropped, allowing Ricky Henderson the opportunity to step on to it and curl an exquisite effort into the top corner from the left edge of the box.
Michael Morrison's side-footed effort from the edge of the box on 37 minutes flashed past the post after he had been teed up by Sean Webb following a Gethins corner into the box.
The crossbar prevented County from re-establishing their lead two minutes later. Gethins spun his man at the edge of the box and crashed a dipping effort off the frame of the goal. Morrison's effort off the corner that followed was deflected just off target.
Callum Maclean's cross into the box from deep on the left was headed just past the far post by Wallace on 58 minutes as Rothes continued to frustrate the hosts after the break.
Antell was called into action on 67 minutes as the County - keeper had to dive to his left to paw away a curling 22-yard free kick from ex-Nairn striker, Craig MacMillan.
Urquhart raced in on goal from the left but his low shot from a tight angle on 74 minutes was dealt with by the boot of Mackie at the goalkeeper's near post.
A minute later, County finally found a way to goal. A ball in from the right by sub Alan Pollock was retrieved by Robbie Duncanson at the far post and fed to Urquhart, who knocked it back across goal for Conor Gethins to bundle home from close range ahead of goalkeeper Mackie and a defender.
Duncanson scooped the ball over the head of Donald Horsburgh on 80 minutes for Alan Pollock to run on to. The midfielder ran in on goal from the right but his shot was saved by Mackie at his near post.
Duncanson himself was next to go close seven minutes from the end when he was played in by Gethins but the striker's attempted chip drifted over the crossbar.
Nairn County - Antell, Webb, P. Macleod (yellow 61), Morrison, Gethins, Urquhart, Skinner (y 66), C. Maclean, Duncanson (R. Naismith 86), McKenzie (Pollock 46), Wallace (Gregg Main 70) (y 77). Subs: Halsman, Macrae, J. Maclean, D. Maclean (gk).
Rothes - Mackie, Lingard, Ewan, Brian, Horsburgh, Davidson (yellow 28), Stuart (Smith 71), McIntosh, Lawrence, MacMillan, Henderson (y 68) (Wilson 81). Subs: Thomson, MacPherson, Faren.
Referee - Ben Dempster.
Pictures by Donald Matheson