IT was a laboured showing from Nairn County but one that ultimately resulted in three points as they huffed and puffed their way to victory with a low-key showing against a battling Fort William at Station Park.
David McGurk called Nairn goalkeeper Dylan Maclean into action just two minutes in with a low effort from 15 yards that was scooped up by the shot stopper and that was all he needed to do throughout a quiet 90 minutes.
Cohen Ramsay saw a volley from 18 yards blocked on nine minutes with the ball coming straight back to the wide player, who saw his second effort palmed wide by the diving Mateusz Kulbacki in the Fort goal.
But from the resulting set piece, Nairn took the lead. After the original delivery was dealt with at the front post, it went back out to Gussie Dey on the left and although his cross was headed clear, it only went as far as Adam Porritt. And he smashed home a volley from 20 yards on the occasion of his 50th appearance for the club.
Porritt almost doubled his tally for the day on 20 minutes but his 30-yard free kick was touched over by the diving Kulbacki to prevent the ball from finding the top corner.
Kulbacki was called into action again four minutes later when he had to get down to his right to get just enough of a touch to Ramsay’s low effort from 18 yards.
Glenn Main was next to go close for Nairn after the hosts broke forward down the right on 32 minutes. The vice-captain ran on to Dylan Mackenzie’s low delivery from the right but his curling effort with the right foot was clutched by the diving Kulbacki.
The woodwork prevented Nairn from going two up on 39 minutes when Gussie Dey’s downwards header was flicked on by a Fort defender and over Kulbacki only to come back off the face of the crossbar.
It had been a frustrating half for County but they finished on a high by doubling their lead a minute into stoppage time. Dylan Mackenzie drove down the right and cut the back to Gussie Dey. His first effort from 15 yards was blocked by a defender but the ball came straight back to the attacker and he stabbed it goalwards, with the ball trundling into the bottom left-hand corner of the net for his first Nairn goal.
Fraser Dingwall’s far post header off a Ramsay delivery from the right on 48 minutes was clutched by Kulbacki before Ramsay himself was denied by the Fort stopper at his near post after firing in a low effort from the left a minute later.
That was as good as it got for Nairn until substitute Tom Maclennan drilled a low shot straight at Kulbacki from 12 yards after stepping on to Seamus McConaghy’s layoff on 69 minutes.
McConaghy’s clipped ball in from the right on 77 minutes setup a foot race between Dylan Mackenzie and the out-rushing Kulbacki. It was one that was won by the County attacker but the Fort shot stopper threw out an arm to block the Nairn man’s goal-bound clip.
But a minute later, the hosts found a way past Kulbacki again. Mackenzie again beat the stopper to a through pass but took the ball wide of goal. His cut back into the area was intended for Glenn Main but the ball was blocked and fell to Max Ewan, who hooked a low effort from 12 yards into the bottom left-hand corner.
McConaghy then advanced in off the right touchline and let fly from 22 yards with a rising effort that flashed just past the top left-hand corner of the net on 84 minutes.
The hosts rounded off the scoring in the final minute. Porritt’s free kick from 20 yards out was kept out by the diving Kulbacki with Max Ewan on hand to turn home his second goal of the day.
Nairn County – D. Maclean, Dingwall, K. McKenzie, Callum Maclean, Glenn Main (Cuthbert 82), Porritt, MacDonald (yellow 23), Ramsay (Maclennan 64), D. Mackenzie, Dey (McConaghy 52), Ewan. Subs unused: Ednie, J. Maclean, Munro, Kendall (gk).
Fort William – Kulbacki, Hunter (Lopez 63), Taylor, MacIntyre (Zinko 72), McGurk, Treasurer (yellow 39), Henderson, Walmshurst, Morrison, Trialist (yellow 21), Carroll. Subs unused: -.
Referee – Filippo Mazzoni.
Pictures by Donald Matheson;