A DUBIOUS Fraserburgh penalty kick ultimately settled this Highland League (Morganti) Cup quarter-final tie as the Broch advanced into the last four with a winner from 12 yards that was awarded despite referee David Watt giving the visitors’ Willie West an advantage that he failed to capitalise on by firing a shot wide.
The Broch took just three minutes to open the scoring. Lewis Davidson delivered an out-swinging free kick from wide on the right that was only touched on by goalkeeper Dylan Maclean to Paul Campbell at the far post and the Broch striker drilled through a forest of legs to break the deadlock.
But Nairn levelled five minutes later. Good work by Ewen Urquhart saw him pick out the unmarked Kenny McKenzie in the centre circle. The midfielder had space to run into and he advanced forward before releasing the ball at the perfect moment to send Dylan Mackenzie racing in on goal. And the striker made no mistake as he showed his pace to evade the Broch defence before slipping the ball beyond goalkeeper Peter Tait.
Campbell almost doubled his tally on 14 minutes when he beat Dylan Maclean in the air but the centre forward’s header dropped inches past the post.
Paul Young went close for Fraserburgh on the half-hour but his rasping drive from 15 yards out to the left of goal was clutched by Dylan Maclean at the second attempt.
A minute later, Nairn goal-scorer Mackenzie chested down a Ryan MacDonald cross from the right for Ewen Urquhart but his rising effort was clutched by Tait.
The woodwork kept County level on 39 minutes. Willie West’s looping header across goal from 12 yards out to the left of goal came back off the inside of the post and was gathered by a grateful Dylan Maclean.
The visitors went close again on 43 minutes but Ryan Cowie’s left-footed free kick from 22 yards out crept just past the right-hand post.
It was Nairn’s turn to hit the woodwork two minutes into the second half. Adam Porritt stepped up to a free kick just outside the box and managed to get the ball up and over the wall with just the crossbar denying the defender what would have been his fourth goal of the season.
Nairn went in front for the first time on 53 minutes. Dylan Mackenzie raced in behind the Broch defence and delivered a cross that was headed away by Dean Cowie but Kenny McKenzie best Davidson to the loose ball to drill a shot through Tait for his second goal of the season.
The lead lasted barely a minute though. Aidan Combe advanced to the by-line on the right and his low delivery was turned home by the on-rushing Greg Buchan with the midfielder netting with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.
A rapid break by Fraserburgh on 61 minutes almost led to them finding the net again. Campbell advanced forward and squared the ball past Dylan Maclean and Fernandino-Soto towards Combe but Cohen Ramsay booted clear for a corner from almost underneath the crossbar.
But the visitors found a way through again on 68 minutes to retake the lead. Combe’s subtle through pass was perfect for Paul Young to run on to and he showed a cool head to slip the ball beyond the exposed Dylan Maclean.
The Broch killed the tie three minutes later. Referee David Watt awarded the visitors a penalty kick despite Willie West getting a clean shot away following a tackle by Kenny McKenzie, with the Broch man catching the Nairn midfielder with his follow through. Up stepped Gary Harris to convert from 12 yards.
A great save at his near post by Dylan Maclean prevented Graham Johnston from making it five for Fraserburgh on 73 minutes. The Broch sub rolled Glenn Main and fired goalwards but was denied by a strong wrist from the Nairn number one.
County ensured a nervy finale on 81 minutes though with Max Ewan rising highest in the box to meet Kenny McKenzie’s in-swinging corner from the right with a bullet header that crashed into the net. But the hosts could not exert enough pressure to force extra time.
Nairn County – D. Maclean, Fernandino-Soto (Ewan 70), Callum Maclean, Naismith, Glenn Main, Porritt, MacDonald, K. McKenzie, D. Mackenzie, Urquhart, Ramsay (Highet 82). Subs unused: Cuthbert, Cameron Maclean, MacBean, Wilkie (gk).
Fraserburgh – Tait, Davidson, Hay, R. Cowie, Christie (G. Buchan 54), D. Cowie, Rae, West (Johnston 73), Campbell (Harris 62 (yellow 88)), Young, Combe. Subs unused: Hannar, C. Buchan, Dickson, Leask (gk).
Referee – David Watt.
Pictures by Donald Matheson