A FRUSTRATING afternoon in Grantown saw wasteful Nairn County held to a draw by Strathspey Thistle with the visitors' poor finishing costing them the chance of coming away with all three points.
With just over half-a-minute on the clock, Gary Kerr clipped the ball across field from 30 yards out on the right for Jordan Macrae and he took a touch before seeing his shot blocked at the expense of a corner.
County's bright start continued on four minutes with Jack Maclean charging down the right and delivering a low cross that was flicked on by Dylan Mackenzie at the front for the sliding Gary Kerr but he could only divert the ball over the crossbar.
Ten minutes later, Dylan Mackenzie nicked the ball off Strathspey defender Shean O'Donnell on the edge of the Jags box with the it rolling through to Kerr but his effort was beaten behind by Michael McCallum at the goalkeeper's near post. From the corner that followed, Dylan Mackenzie fired straight at the stopper when anywhere else would have seen the visitors in front.
Kerr was inches away from breaking the deadlock on 20 minutes when he burst into the penalty area and rolled a low shot across goal from the left which trundled past the far post by a whisker.
The hosts came close on 23 minutes through Ryan Macleod. The Strathspey attacker got his head on the end of a free kick into the box from the left but his effort flew over the crossbar.
Glenn Main almost smashed home an opener for County on 28 minutes but his thunderbolt from 25 yards deflected off the back of a defender and whacked the crossbar.
But it was the home side who found a way in front on 33 minutes. A quick free kick 40 yards out from goal was played square to James McShane and he stepped on before clipping a shot which dipped into the top right corner.
Nairn were back on level terms eight minutes later. Gregg Main was the architect as he raced down the right and showed great awareness to twist and turn past the full back to allow his team mates the time to arrive in the box. The midfielder then blasted a low ball across the face of goal and Gary Kerr slid in to convert from a yard out at the far post.
Main almost setup another goal in the final minute of the half after slipping the ball into the path of Macrae but McCallum raced off his line and stood up well to block the youngster's first time shot.
County started the second half as they did the first - by almost scoring in under a minute. Callum Maclean marauded forward from defence and played a one-two with Dylan Mackenzie on the edge of the box but his shot was blocked by McCallum's legs.
Strathspey went back in front six minutes into the second half. McShane clipped a free kick into the box from 40 yards out with Stephen Mackenzie heading the ball up into the air and when it dropped, Ryan Macleod was on hand to rifle home a 10-yard volley.
The attacker almost made it two in as many minutes when he ran through on Maclean but the County stopper advanced well and made a block with his legs.
County struck back with a leveller on 54 minutes. A Gregg Main corner from the left was headed clear with Callum Maclean returning it towards goal and Jordan Macrae on hand to flick the ball beyond McCallum with his head.
Strathspey were almost back in front a minute later when Macleod met a cut back at the near post but Maclean was equal to it as the goalkeeper stood up well to block the striker's rifling shot.
Gregg Main's low free kick into the box almost led to County finding a way in front as Jack Maclean slid in at the far post but his effort skewed across goal and wide.
Macrae then raced in on McCallum's goal but the attacker opted to take the shot early as he looked to lift it over the advancing goalkeeper, who stood up well to make the save.
Either side could have won it at the death with Kerr just inches away from reaching Jamie Mackay's low ball across goal. Then, at the other end, Reece Barton was well-placed on the goal line to block James Fraser's effort on 92 minutes before Kerr was denied one more time by McCallum with the goalkeeper blocking the County centre forward's drive at his near post.
Strathspey Thistle - McCallum, Cairns, McShane, R. Macleod, Fraser (yellow 81), Scott, Edwards, Mackay, McKie (Wilson 58), Finnis, O'Donnell. Subs unused: Fraser, Trialist, Black (gk).
Nairn County - D. Maclean, J. Maclean (yellow 70) (Barton 72), C. Maclean, S. Mackenzie, Glenn Main (y 69), Barron, D. Mackenzie (y 56) (Mackay 64), K. McKenzie, Kerr, Gregg Main (y 62), Macrae (Naismith 81). Subs unused: Riddell, Ednie, Morganti, R. Macleod (gk).
Referee - Liam Duncan.
Pictures byDonald Matheson.