CONOR Gethins bagged a remarkable late double to complete his hat trick and turn this derby on its head at Station Park as County edged out Clachnacuddin by four goals to three, writes Graeme Macleod.
Midfielder Callum Maclean missed out for Nairn after limping off half-an-hour into Wednesday night’s cup semi final win at Forres Mechanics with his place into the team going to the player who took over from him in midweek, Wayne Mackintosh.
After an even open period, County raced into a two-goal lead only for the visitors to peg them back to two apiece just as quickly.
The opener came 24 minutes in when right back Glenn Main collected the ball from Alan Pollock’s switch from the left and drove forward. His shot was blocked by a defender but fell perfectly for Gregg Main to send a curling effort off the face of the crossbar with Conor Gethins on hand to nod in the opener from close range.
And it was 2-0 to the hosts just three minutes later. County broke forward off a Clachnacuddin corner with Robbie Duncanson driving forward before slipping the ball to the left at the perfect time for Alan Pollock to cut inside a defender and place his shot in the bottom right hand corner.
But Clach halved the deficit on 31 minutes with Michael Morrison sending the ball beyond his own goalkeeper Calum Antell with a flashing header that flew into the top left hand corner of the net as he attempted to defender Martin Callum’s in-swinging free kick from a deep position on the right.
The visitors completed their comeback just seven minutes later. Blair Lawrie beat Morrison to a pass inside from the right and stepped away from the stranded centre half before lifting an exquisite chip over the head of Antell.
Clach had the first sight of goal of the second half on the hour as Daniel Mclennan anticipated a flick on to give himself a sniff of a goal but Paul Macleod was on hand to make a decisive close range block and take the sting out of the centre forward’s effort.
And the visitors completed their turnaround on 63 minutes from the penalty spot. John Cameron tripped Michael Finnis in the box and substitute Colin Maclean coolly stroked the ball home from 12 yards.
Nairn were back on level terms with eight minutes to go though after substitute Kenny McKenzie jinked past Calum Macdonald and was tripped in the penalty area by the defender. Referee David Watt awarded the second penalty of the game and Conor Gethins blasted home to restore parity.
County went back in front with a dramatic last-minute penalty. McKenzie’s free kick into the box from the right was handled by Macdonald and Conor Gethins stepped up to net his third of the afternoon and complete a remarkable derby.
Nairn County – Antell, Glenn Main (McKenzie 75), P. Macleod, Morrison (yellow 62), A. Naismith, Mackintosh, Duncanson (Urquhart 65), Pollock, Gethins, Gregg Main (y 57), Cameron. Subs unused: Webb, R. Naismith, Halsman, Skinner, D. Maclean (gk).
Clachnacuddin – Watson, Mackintosh, Finnis, Macdonald (yellow 89), McGurk, Robertson (Maclean 55), Lawrie (y 89), Callum (y 89), Mason (Fitzpatrick 75), Ingram, Mclennan (Davidson 85). Subs unused: Doran, Grimes, Mackenzie, Fernandino Sato.
Referee: David Watt.
Pictures by Donald Matheson