NAIRN County are through to the final of the Highland League (Morganti) Cup with an impressive display against Turriff United at Station Park, writes Graeme Macleod.
The hosts were far from at full strength through injuries, suspensions and players being unavailable because of other commitments but those who came in stood up and were counted to earn a fully-deserved success, giving them the club a second cup final appearance of a fully satisfying season.
Conor Gethins tried to replicate his outstanding free kick at Clach on Wednesday night four minutes in but this time his 20-yard effort curled past the near post.
It was an even start to the game but it was Nairn who threatened again on 14 minutes. Alan Pollock teed up Robbie Duncanson and his curling effort from the left edge of the box was clutched by Kevin Main as the 'keeper dived low to his left.
County went even closer two minutes later when Sean Webb met a corner from the left with a towering header at the back post but his effort was headed clear by Lewis Davidson on the goal line.
Turriff worked a throw-in from the right to full back Lewis Davidson, who drove in along the 18-yard line only to see his low drive held by Antell on 31 minutes.
Gethins saw a free kick parried away by Main before Duncanson blasted well over the crossbar from 25 yards on 41 minutes.
That was the start of County finishing the half on top with Sam Urquhart then rampaging down the right and bamboozling the Turriff left back before seeing his raking low drive hacked clear from the line at the far post.
Then, a clipped Gethins free kick into the box from the left was flicked on by the head of Webb and only a great reaction save from Main kept it out of the net as the goalkeeper did well to get down to his left and clutch the ball.
County made the ideal start to the second half by taking the lead straight from kick off. Urquhart collected a long ball into the right channel and his cross was dropped by Main under pressure from Cameron for Conor Gethins to direct into the empty net with a volley from six yards.
Gethins fed Alan Pollock down the right with an intelligent flick and the midfielder pulled the ball back to the on-running Duncanson at the edge of the box but his sweeping drive from 15 yards was parried by Main with Cameron squeezed out of turning home the rebound.
A superb move almost saw Nairn double their lead on 53 minutes. Duncanson's clipped ball into the box was headed down by Gethins - who had peeled off his man - to Pollock, who had made the third man run but the midfielder's shot was excellently blocked by Main with the ball spinning inches past the post.
Then, on 56 minutes, another superb Gethins flick put Pollock haring in on goal but he went himself and blasted wide when he could have played the supporting Duncanson clean through on goal.
A stinging drive from Andrew Smith 25 yards out was held by Antell in Turriff's first chance of the second half.
A minute later, a goal-saving tackle from Glenn Main prevented the visitors from levelling. Allen Mackenzie advanced in behind the County defence but wanted to take an extra touch, which allowed Main to slide in and make a perfectly-timed intervention, which would have resulted in a penalty and red card had it been a foul.
Andrew Skinner fired wide from distance on 66 minutes after a corner had been cleared to him as Nairn looked to add to their lead.
Sean Webb's defensive header under pressure from Nick Gray dropped to Aaron McKenna on 67 minutes but his volley flashed over the bar.
County doubled their lead with a magnificent goal on 72 minutes. The tireless Sam Urquhart took a superb first touch to control a Pollock ball over the Turriff defence as he advanced in from the right and showed great composure to clip the ball over the advancing Main to put daylight between the sides.
Gethins was inches away from adding a third for Nairn on 78 minutes. The striker was found in space in the box by Duncanson's pass but his shot on the spin rolled inches past the post with Main rooted to the spot.
Pollock then struck the woodwork as he clipped a cross in from the left that skimmed the crossbar on its way behind on 83 minutes as County earned a magnificent victory.
Nairn County - Antell, Webb, Pollock, Gethins (yellow 41) (R. Naismith 87), Urquhart, Skinner, C. Maclean, Duncanson, Glenn Main, Cameron, McKenzie. Subs unused: Munro, R. Naismith, Halsman, Macrae, J. Maclean, D. Maclean (gk).
Turriff United - Main, Davidson, Herd, Smith (Gray 61) (yellow 86), Bowden, MacKenzie, McKenna, Young, Beagrie (y 80), MacAskill (Wozniak 61), Allan (Mair 74) (y 90+2). Subs unused: Strachan, Bruce, Mair, O'Brien (gk).
Referee - Ben Dempster.
Pictures by Donald Matheson