NAIRN County are through to the quarter finals of the Highland League (Morganti) Cup but not without making life difficult for themselves by missing two first half penalty kicks.
Ross Archibald threatened first for Lossiemouth but he fired just over the crossbar from the edge of the box as the visitors looked to make a positive start.
Kenny McKenzie looked to play in Jordan MacRae with a neat reverse pass at the other end but County’s top scorer was thwarted by Blair Moir in the Lossiemouth goal.
MacRae then won a penalty on 12 minutes when he was barged off the ball inside the box. The striker stepped up himself but his effort straight down the middle was kept out by Moir, who made a strong block with his torso.
A minute later, MacRae went close to opening the scoring again but his curling effort from 18 yards towards the top left-hand corner of the net dropped just over the crossbar.
Liam Archibald was next to go close for Lossiemouth on 18 minutes but his shot from 25 yards deflected off Adam Porritt to leave Dylan Maclean wrong-footed but the ball trickled just wide of the post.
Nairn were denied by Moir from 12 yards again on 19 minutes. Dylan Mackenzie nicked the ball on the halfway line as County broke before driving into the box. He knocked the ball past the goalkeeper before being wiped out by the Lossiemouth number one with referee Baxter pointing to the spot. But Moir redeemed himself to repel Glenn Main’s powerful effort from the penalty spot.
County found a way past Moir on 33 minutes. Adam Porritt’s raking pass from the back was flicked on by the head of Dylan Mackenzie into the path of the arriving Jack Maclean. And he was able to steer a controlled volley on the stretch beyond the reach of the Lossie goalkeeper and inside the left-hand post.
The hosts almost doubled their lead four minutes later. Jordan MacRae connected for a corner from the right with a glancing header that was headed clear from the goal line by the man inside the far post.
But Nairn made it two on 41 minutes. Ryan MacDonald whipped in a cross from the right that was flicked on by the head of MacRae for Dylan Mackenzie to run on to and loop over the helpless Moir with a header of his own.
Lossiemouth halved the deficit just three minutes later though. Ryan Farquhar made a positive run at the heart of the County defence and after skipping past a couple of challenges, he placed a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net leaving Dylan Maclean rooted to the spot.
Lossie were almost back on level terms three minutes after the break. Liam Archibald’s effort from the left-edge of the penalty area took a deflection to send it looping into the air and inches past the far post with Maclean scrambling.
Nairn went 3-1 up on 51 minutes with MacRae grabbing his goal. Adam Naismith swung in a free kick from deep on the left that was knocked down by Dylan Mackenzie to Kenny McKenzie. He managed to squeeze the ball through to Jordan MacRae and although Nairn’s top scorer had his back to goal, he was able to find enough space to spin had despatch a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner.
But Lossie hit back again on 54 minutes. Ryan Farquhar ghosted in behind the Nairn defence from the left as the visitors had a man over on the counter before placing the ball under the advancing Maclean from a tight angle for his second of the afternoon.
Max Ewan was introduced by Nairn on 75 minutes and he almost added his name to the score sheet three minutes after taking to the field. He turned and blasted goalwards from just inside the box but his shot was kept out by the impressive Moir.
Aaron Hamilton had a stinging drive from the edge of the box clutched by Dylan Maclean in all that Lossie could muster in their efforts to force extra time.
Nairn County – D. Maclean, MacDonald, C. Maclean, Naismith, Glenn Main, Porritt, J. Maclean, K. McKenzie, D. Mackenzie (Ewan 76), MacRae (yellow 90+5), Ramsay (Urquhart 65). Subs unused: M. Macleod, Highet, Munro, R. Macleod (gk).
Lossiemouth – Moir, Johnstone, Smith (Clark 80), Duncan (Campbell 60), Macrae, Hamilton, Macaulay (Mackenzie 16), Farquhar (yellow 68), R. Archibald, Wilson (y 57), L. Archibald (y 90+8). Subs unused: Ross, McLean, Dunn, Dear (gk).
Referee – Billy Baxter.
Pictures by Donald Matheson