A LATE rally from Nairn County ensured their progress to the quarter finals of the Highland League (Morganti) Cup as Locos lost the plot at Station Park.
Nairn were on the front foot from the off and opened the scoring after just four minutes. Martin MacDonald connected with a corner kick from the right and although his initial effort was saved, he reacted quickest to bundle the rebound over the line.
Conor Gethins was then denied by the linesman's flag as he connected with a Robbie Duncanson cross and found the net at the second attempt but was deemed to be offside when the ball came across.
Sam Urquhart also hit the woodwork before man of the match Glenn Main surged forward from the back and fed Gethins. The Irish striker was denied by Locos goalkeeper Scott Mathieson and the ball dropped just behind the now-grounded Main, which meant he was unable to get the correct purchase on his effort as he steered it wide of the post with the goal gaping.
Nairn made their supremacy count six minutes before the break though as Gethins clipped the ball home from 20 yards with a curling effort that nestled in the bottom right hand corner.
Such was Nairn's dominance of the first 45 minutes, Inverurie could have had no complaints if they were four goals behind at the break but they were then handed a lifeline by referee Douglas Ross nine minutes after the break.
A cross from the left hit Adam Naismith on the arm and referee Ross whistled immediately and pointed to the penalty spot, despite the ball shooting up at the Nairn full back from only a couple of yards away and his arm being in a natural position.
Martin Bavidge stepped up to coolly stroke the ball home from 12 yards.
And the Locos completed an unlikely comeback 13 minutes from time as Gordon Forsyth headed home from a corner kick. To compound Nairn's misfortune, the hosts surrendered possession in the build up to the goal when a pass inadvertantly struck referee Ross and broke straight to a Locos player, who then won the corner kick from which the goal was scored.
Just when it looked as if extra time was going to be required, Inverurie imploded as Nairn won the tie.
After a Nairn corner kick had been cleared, Locos centre half Kieran Adams elbowed Sam Urquhart on the jaw in the goalmouth. Referee Ross spotted it, sent off the Inverurie defender and Gethins then smashed home the resulting penalty kick to restore County's lead on 83 minutes.
It got worse for the visitors just three minutes later when captain Neil McLean - already on a booking and lucky to have avoided a second just a few minutes earlier for a bone-shuddering challenge on Main - was also dismissed after being yellow carded for a dive in the Nairn penalty area.
And Nairn made sure of their progress to the quarter finals in the last minute as Robbie Duncanson toe-ended a low effort into the bottom left corner of the net.
Pictures by Donald Matheson