A SINGLE goal midway through the second half saw Strathspey Thistle take all three points off a Nairn side devoid of ideas in the final third against a Jags defence that mopped up everything that was thrown at them.
Cohen Ramsay had a couple of early sighters for Nairn with his cross from the left being diverted just past the near post by Strathspey’s Martin Duncan in the first minute before Glenn Main played the ball to the left to the wide man on six minutes but his low drive was blocked.
It was Strathspey goalkeeper Michael McCallum who then prevented Ramsay from finding the opener. A Nairn throw-in from the right was flicked on for the former Ross County youngster to run on to and stroke goalwards first time with his right boot. But the Jags stopper was equal to it, making a fine block with his left boot.
Former Nairn midfielder David Watson played the ball into the path of James Fraser for him to strike first time on 14 minutes but his low effort from 22 yards was pounced upon by Nairn goalkeeper Dylan Maclean.
A fantastic ball over the top of the Strathspey defence sent Dylan Mackenzie racing in towards goal but instead of shooting for goal himself, he attempted to square the ball to Ramsay but the ball was intercepted by a covering Jags defender.
Strathspey were inches away from taking the lead on 22 minutes. Nicholas Mochan met Fraser’s corner kick from right with a downwards header which bounced up and crashed off the Nairn crossbar.
Nairn threatened again 20 minutes later with Dylan Mackenzie racing to the by-line on the left before finding Ryan MacDonald at the far post with his cross. But his shot was deflected inches over the crossbar.
Then, on 44 minutes, Max Ewan headed the ball down at the near post off a throw-in from the left to Callum Maclean but his shot went over the crossbar.
It looked increasingly like one goal would be enough to win it and the hosts found it on 64 minutes. David Watson weaved between two Nairn defenders to the by-line on the right before lifting his head and pulling the ball back to the unmarked Craig MacMillan and with one sweep of his right boot the ball was in the net from six yards.
Five minutes later, Scott Lisle went in search of a second for the home side but his rising effort from 20 yards was clutched by Dylan Maclean.
Watson then jinked away from two Nairn midfielders before seeing his raking low effort creep just past the left-hand post.
County had a great chance to level it 13 minutes from the end with substitute Gussie Dey running on to Glenn Main’s fine through pass but his angled shot from the right was at a nice height for the goalkeeper, with McCallum getting a hand to it to send the ball looping over the crossbar.
Good skills on the left by Ewan on 83 minutes allowed him to deliver a low ball that Callum Maclean ran on to but with the goal gaping, the defender could only send his first time effort from eight yards over the top.
Strathspey Thistle – McCallum, C. Lisle, Innes, Duncan (yellow 27), Mochan, Rennie (y 86) (Tawse 87), McShane, Watson, S. Lisle, Fraser, MacMillan (y 58) (Naismith 68). Subs unused: 2 Wilson, 17 Finnis, 6 Mainland.
Nairn County – D. Maclean, Dingwall, K. McKenzie, Callum Maclean, Glenn Main, Porritt, MacDonald, Naismith (J. Maclean 77), D. Mackenzie, Ramsay (Dey 72), Ewan. Subs unused: Ednie, Cuthbert, Munro, Payne, Kendall (gk).
Referee – Filippo Mazzoni.
Pictures by Donald Matheson