Duncanson's Defiance: Sub Robbie Rescues Cup Dream
SUBSTITUTE Robbie Duncanson climbed off the bench to keep Nairn County's North of Scotland Cup hopes alive with an inspired 25-minute display at Seafield Park, writes Graeme Macleod.
Hosts Strathspey Thistle led this quarter final tie 1-0 going into the final 10 minutes but Duncanson's equaliser followed by a last-gasp Sean Webb header off the substitute's cross rescued County.
There were four changes to the Nairn team which won so comfortably at Deveronvale on Saturday with goalkeeper Calum Antell returning from suspension while Michael Morrison replaced the injured Martin MacDonald. Sam Urquhart was handed a first start of the season in place of Kenny McKenzie while Adam Naismith returned to the starting eleven at the expense of Glenn Main, who dropped to the bench.
In a goalless first half, Strathspey kept Antell busy with a header off a corner that the goalkeeper kept out with a smart save while at the other end, Conor Gethins was denied what looked a stick-on penalty as he was tripped after spinning his marker in the penalty area.
The Irishman also flashed a 20-yard free kick narrowly over the crossbar shortly before the interval.
Disaster struck the visitors on 59 minutes though as Strathspey took a shock lead.
Andrew Skinner allowed a high ball to bounce over his head with Josh Peters beating the out-rushing Antell to the loose ball. He rounded the goalkeeper but with the angle too tight to finish himself, the Jags attacker played a square pass into the goalmouth for Adam Macleod to blast into the unguarded net from a couple of yards.
Nairn continued to press forward for an equaliser but with the Jags defence limiting clear cut chances, it was going to take either a mistake from the home back line or a moment of brilliance from the County attack to keep the visitors in the cup.
It was the latter and on 80 minutes, Duncanson levelled the tie.
Alan Pollock's shot from 25 yards was blocked by a defender with the ball falling kindly for Duncanson to smash an unstoppable drive into the top left hand corner to make it 1-1.
Then, just when it looked as if the tie would be settled on penalties, Nairn won it in the 92nd minute.
Duncanson's sumptuous cross from deep on the right was met by a towering header from Sean Webb which crashed into the top corner giving the goalkeeper no chance.
County now visit Forres Mechanics in the semi finals on either September 15th or 16th.
Strathspey Thistle - MacCallum, Wardrope, Cairns (McKernie 86), Maley, McShane, Groat, Macleod (Patience 79), Peters, Borthwick, Hume, Treasurer (MacKay 55). Subs unused - Aubrey, Matheson (gk).
Nairn County - Antell, Webb, A. Naismith, Morrison, Skinner, Cameron (Duncanson 67), Wallace (Glenn Main 75), Pollock, Gethins, Gregg Main, Urquhart (McKenzie 52). Subs unused - R. Naismith, D. Maclean (gk).
Pictures by Donald Matheson