THREE points from their final Highland League match of the season ensured that Nairn County finished the 2016/17 with a point-per-game return with the bonus of climbing one place to end the campaign in 13th spot.
At the start of the season, it would have been a scarcely believable return for a club who only had six signed first team players the week before the campaign got underway to only fall five places from their finishes during the previous two seasons.
The hosts were quickest out of the blocks and only a superb block by Ryan Macleod kept the game level in the second minute. A sweeping pass over the Nairn defence from on the right touchline allowed trialist Gavin Hay the chance to run at Stephen Mackenzie. He cut inside the County centre half and blasted goalwards only for Macleod to stand his ground and divert the ball wide with an outstretched boot.
At the other end, Nairn created several chances throughout the first half with the best one being the first. Wayne Mackintosh's out-swinging free kick from the deep on the right found the unmarked Gary Kerr at the far post but he directed his header off target.
Kerr then controlled a long Jordan Macrae throw-in from the left at the front post on 10 minutes before turning and drilling the ball into the side netting.
A neat one-two between Jack Maclean and Mackintosh sent the young midfielder to the by-line on the right 26 minutes in. His low delivery nicked off the toe of backtracking Rothes midfielder Kelvin Main but Sean McIntosh in the home side's goal was alert enough to dive on the ball and prevent an own goal.
The woodwork prevented Kerr from opening the scoring three minutes later as he smacked the inside of the left-hand post with a thunderous drive from 18 yards. The ball flew back at Jack Maclean, who could not sort his feet out in time to profit on the open goal and was forced the work the ball back across to Kerr, who then saw a shot deflected wide for a corner.
A dipping Jack Maley free kick on 37 minutes called Macleod into action again but with the Rothes midfielder poised to pick out the top left-hand corner, the 19-year-old shot stopper managed to show quick feet to shuttle across his goal line and touch the ball over.
But after a goalless first half, it took Nairn just eight second-half minutes to find a way in front as their teenage strikers combined for a great goal. Macrae picked out Dylan Mackenzie with a long throw from the left. He controlled the ball on his chest before swivelling away from his man superbly and then planting the ball across goal and into the bottom right corner.
Kerr then played Macrae in on the left on 56 minutes but his rising shot from a tight angle was parried up into the air and knocked behind for what turned out to be a fruitless corner kick.
Macrae then found Kerr at the far post with a free kick from 30 yards out on the right but the centre forward spooned the ball across goal as he miscued his effort.
But there was no messing from Gary Kerr on the hour-mark as he made it two and it was all about the centre forward's powerful neck muscles. Mackintosh's free kick from 22 yards clipped off the defensive wall and spun up into the air. When the ball dropped 10 yards from goal on the right, Kerr had the strength to get their ahead of his marker and presence of mind to power it back across goal into the far corner first time with a pinpoint header.
Nairn almost made it three on 67 minutes but McIntosh got down well to hold a Callum Maclean header after the County defender met Kenny Mckenzie's in-swinging corner from the right.
Rothes - McIntosh, Macdonald (Lisle 82), Rennie, Brown, McRitchie, Main (Maclean 46), McArthur, Maley, Trialist, Macnab, Mackay. Subs unused: Munro, Trialist (gk).
Nairn County - R. Macleod, S. Mackenzie, C. Maclean, Morganti, Glenn Main, Mackintosh (yellow 45), J. Maclean (Ednie 88), K. McKenzie, Kerr, D. Mackenzie (Naismith 77), Macrae. Subs unused: Riddell, Gordon, Wilkie (gk).
Pictues by Donald Matheson.