A CONOR Gethins hat trick helped Nairn County return to winning ways as they hit Fort William for five at Station Park, writes Graeme Macleod. The restored Sam Urquhart notched his side’s other two goals.
Glenn Main and Sam Urquhart returned to the County line up after being dropped to the bench for Wednesday night’s game at Formartine United. Bradley Halsman and Kenny McKenzie were the players to miss out as they were named among the substitutes, along with John Cameron, who returned to the squad after missing the midweek match.
In only the first minute, a Fort William free kick was headed clear to the lurking Scott Chisholm at the edge of the box and his first time effort from fully 30 yards flew over the crossbar by a matter of inches.
But County opened the scoring with their first attack eight minutes in. Robbie Duncanson – who had made a lively start to the match – as allowed the space to drive to the by-line on the left hand side. And his ball across goal was on a plate for the on-rushing Conor Gethins to bundle in from close range.
Adam Naismith then went close to adding a second on 13 minutes but his rasping low drive from the right edge of the box flew across goal and beyond the far post.
Fort goalkeeper Ryan Hunter produced a great reaction save off a Gethins header a minute later after the striker rose to meet Sam Urquhart’s drilled cross from the right.
The visitors levelled things up 20 minutes in. A slip by Michael Morrison presented John McLeod with the ball 30 yards from goal and the in-form centre forward twisted past Paul Macleod before coolly rolling the ball beyond Calum Antell.
Adam Naismith caught the Fort defence flatfooted as he lifted the ball over the visitors’ backline for Sam Urquhart to run on to. The striker used his pace to advance in on goal but he could only send his shot past the post under pressure from a tracking defender.
The striker got his rewards on 33 minutes though. Wayne Mackintosh’s drive from 18 yards was too hot for goalkeeper Ryan Hunter to handle and Sam Urquhart was the first man to react as he collected the loose ball, went around the grounded stopper and rolled home his side’s second of the afternoon.
And only a goal line clearance prevented Gethins from completing his hat trick before the break. Duncanson spun past a defender, hit the by-line on the right and stood the ball up for Gethins to meet with a header but Iain Foggo was in the right place at the right time to prevent County from putting the result beyond doubt.
It took just four minutes for County to increase their lead. Duncanson lifted an in-swinging cross from the left into the box and with the Fort defence static, Conor Gethins stooped between the two centre halves to guide home a header from six yards.
Antell then produced a low save to his right to prevent McLeod from doubling his tally for the afternoon as the ‘keeper looked lively to keep out the centre forward’s net-bound effort.
It took just three minutes of the second half for Nairn to add to their tally. Duncanson’s clipped ball to the back post from 20 yards out slightly right of goal bounced up for Sam Urquhart to score his second of the afternoon with a calm side-foot volley from eight yards.
The woodwork prevented County from increasing their lead on 54 minutes. A Gethins cross from the right was punched away by Hunter to Adam Naismith at the edge of the box but his drive bounced back out off the post.
The offside flag then denied Gethins on the hour mark when his header from 15 yards off a Mackintosh cross was chalked off.
Antell then looked lively to collect Darren Quigg’s low shot from the edge of the box on 70 minutes at the second attempt with the Fort attackers closing in on the loose ball.
Conor Gethins was not to be denied though and he rounded off his hat trick on 72 minutes. Adam Naismith clipped in a deep cross from the right and the striker timed his run to perfection to meet the delivery with a powerful header that he guided beyond the reach of the diving Hunter.
Fort William pulled a goal back two minutes from time. John McLeod got away from Morrison at the edge of the box and placed home his second of the afternoon beyond the exposed Antell.
Nairn County - Antell, Webb, P. Macleod, Morrison, Mackintosh, Pollock, Gethins (Cameron 78), Urquhart (R. Naismith 87), A. Naismith, Duncanson, Glenn Main (Halsman 78). Subs unused: Skinner, C. Maclean, McKenzie, D. Maclean (gk).
Fort William - Hunter, Foggo, Broomfield, Moffat, Macrae, Quigg, Fell, Chisholm (MacPherson 79), McLeod, Ellis (Taylor 68), MacLellan (Campbell 58). Subs unused: MacLennan, Lewandowski (gk).
Referee - Dan McFarlane.
Pictures by Donald Matheson