T was a superb display from Nairn County at Harmsworth Park as they bagged five goals, looked dangerous every time they ventured forward and defended vigorously to restrict in-form hosts Wick Academy to just a couple of half chances throughout a 90 minutes during which the visitors always looked the better side.
A great run by Wayne Mackintosh saw him surge up the Harmsworth Hill away from two Wick midfielders before slipping Kenny McKenzie through on goal but his shot was tame and easily saved by Sean McCarthy.
Then, a minute later, the visitors went in front. Gregg Main whipped in a superb free kick from wide on the right and Jack Maclean stooped to flick a header beyond McCarthy and into the far corner of the net.
The hosts should have been level on 14 minutes when Nairn could not deal with a corner in from the left and the ball dropped to Grant Steven at the far post but he could only smash his shot off the face of the crossbar from a few yards.
County had the ball in the net again on 18 minutes with Gary Kerr heading in another Main free kick but the centre forward was denied by the offside flag.
The home side came into it from there but at the other end on 26 minutes, Gregg Main sent a free kick fizzing over the bar from wide on the left after Jordan Macrae had been scythed down by Grant Steven just outside the box.
Richard MacAdie then spooned a Steven Anderson pull back from the left well over the crossbar from 15 yards out.
The home side threatened again on 36 minutes but Sam Mackay's chip off Andrew Hardwick's feed from the right drifted over the crossbar at the near post.
Then, a minute before the break, James Pickles had the opportunity to lift his head and have a go from 25 yards but his effort flew just over the top.
Gary Manson was next to have a go for Wick as he ran on to a Hardwick lay off but his blast was comfortably held by the diving Dylan Maclean.
But the visitors made a dream start to the second half with two goals in five minutes. Kenny McKenzie picked off a slack backpass by Danny Mackay to tuck a low shot under the advancing McCarthy on 47 minutes.
Just three minutes later, Jordan Macrae rose superbly to meet Callum Maclean's clipped delivery from the left with a looping header that dropped inside the left-hand post.
Macrae almost nicked a second on 57 minutes after Callum Maclean flicked a Gregg Main free kick from the left back into the middle at the far post but the County attacker could not quite scramble it home while under pressure from two defenders.
County continued to play on the counter down the slope and Kenny McKenzie's neat through pass on 62 minutes looked to have put Macrae in on goal but the young attacker's touch was just too heavy and McCarthy advanced to gather.
The hosts pulled one back on 64 minutes. Richard MacAdie's free kick on the edge of the box was blocked but Nairn could not get the ball cleared and it dropped for Steven Anderson to sweep inside the left-hand post.
Mackintosh then played in Macrae at the other end three minutes later but the County attacker saw his effort from 18 yards held by McCarthy.
Dylan Maclean was called into action again on 72 minutes as he got down well to hold on to Marc MacGregor's header after the Wick attacker met Sam Mackay's free kick from the by-line on the left with a powerful diving effort at the far post.
But it was County who found the net next as they added a fourth on 78 minutes. Jack Maclean had acres of space the advance down the right having been picked out by McKenzie before cutting in towards goal. With McCarthy anticipating a cutback to Macrae in the middle, the young midfielder threaded the ball beyond the goalkeeper from an accute angle.
Nairn's tails were up and they continued to break with intent but it was from a corner kick that they almost added a fortuitous fifth. Gregg Main's corner from the left was punched by McCarthy with the ball striking Callum Maclean on the face and trickling inches past the near post.
Goal number five arrived in added time though. Good pressing by substitute Calum Riddell forced Michael Steven into a wild pass back to McCarthy from 30 yards out. The goalkeeper never covered himself in glory though as he fresh-aired the ball allowing Wayne Mackintosh to virtually walk the ball into the net.
The home side could have added a second consolation on 93 minutes but somehow Anderson fired over the crossbar from practically on the goal line after connecting with Sam Mackay's free kick into the box from the right.
Wick Academy - S. McCarthy, Hardwick, M. Steven, G. Steven (yellow 52), D. Mackay (y 75), Manson, Pickles (A. Mackay 65), S. Mackay, MacAdie, Anderson, Weir (MacGregor 55). Subs unused: Macrae, Allan, Henstridge, D. McCarthy (gk).
Nairn County - D. Maclean, J. Maclean, C. Maclean, P. Macleod, S. Mackenzie, Mackintosh, Macrae, K. McKenzie, Kerr (yellow 45) (Riddell 85), Gregg Main (y 66), Morganti. Subs unused: D. Mackenzie, Naismith, Ednie, Barton, R. Macleod (gk).
Referee - David Watt.
Pictures by Donald Matheson.