CLINICAL Wick Academy ended Nairn County's North of Scotland Cup dreams with a comprehensive win in the final at Dudgeon Park, writes Graeme Macleod.
Nairn had their moments in the first half and at the start of the second half but trailing three nil at the break and conceding immediately after pulling a goal back early on in the second half had County always chasing the game.
Gregg Main was red carded with 15 minutes left as Nairn finished with 10 men.
Les Fridge named an unchanged starting eleven from last weekend's 1-1 draw at Inverurie Locos for the big match. John Cameron returned to the bench with Bradley Halsman unavailable and with only five substitutes permitted in this competition, Paul Macleod and Sean Webb missed out.
County started well on a slippy pitch and six minutes in, Conor Gethins fed Robbie Duncanson, whose curling shot from the left was held by Sean McCarthy in the Wick goal.
But Academy went up the other end of the park and in their first attack, opened the scoring. Calum Antell came haring out of his goals and committed a foul and although the referee originally signalled for a free kick, nearside linesman Gordon Seago called Mat Northcroft over and indicated that the offence took place inside the box. Richard MacAdie stepped up to smash the ball right down the middle.
Nairn responded well though and Tony Wallace stung McCarthy's palms before Callum Maclean blasted the rebound narrowly over the top.
Wick threatened again on 12 minutes when Gary Weir shrugged off Glenn Main and fed David Allan but he fired into the side netting from a tight angle on the left.
The woodwork prevented Nairn from drawing level on 16 minutes. Alan Pollock's chip from the left struck the underside of the crossbar and Wallace and Conor Gethins were unable to force home the rebound as the Wick defenders scrambled back.
Nairn continued to push for a leveller and on 19 minutes, Duncanson sent Wallace racing in on goal but his low effort across goal from the left missed the far corner of the net by a matter of inches.
But Wick grabbed two goals in a minute to take a firm control of the final. Academy had a sustained spell of possession and finished it off with Danny Mackay overlapping on the left and delivering a low ball for Gary Weir to run on to and blast home from six yards.
Just a minute later, Nairn were 3-0 down. A Richard MacAdie delivery from the right was knocked down by Weir for the on-running Sam Mackay to rifle home his side's third of the day from 10 yards and leave County with a mountain to climb.
MacAdie nearly had another goal himself on 34 minutes but his free kick from 25 yards flashed over the crossbar. At the other end, a Gethins free kick from a similar distance two minutes later had to be touched over by McCarthy.
Duncanson failed to get the power behind his low shot from 18 yards four minutes after the turnaround as it trickled past the post without troubling McCarthy.
Nairn almost snatched a lifeline on 53 minutes though. Alan Pollock's cross from the left was dropped by McCarthy under pressure from Sam Urquhart but Tony Wallace could not quite squeeze home the loose ball.
But County grabbed a goal back three minutes later. Pollock played Urquhart in behind the Wick left back and his delivery was partially cleared, which allowed Alan Pollock to charge on to the loose ball, take a touch and drill his effort high and across McCarthy from 12 yards.
But Wick took just three minutes to restore their three-goal lead. Sam Mackay's in-swinging free kick from the left was not dealt with and Michael Steven slid in on the loose ball to flick it beyond the exposed Antell.
It was five for Wick on 67 minutes. A throw-in from the left found Steven Harrison and he shaped himself to lash an arrowing effort across Antell and into the far corner from 18 yards.
County's afternoon got worse on 75 minutes when Gregg Main was red carded. The Nairn midfielder was caught in a tussle on the ground with Wick striker Gary Weir on the touchline and lashed out at the forward with referee Mat Northcroft then ending Main's afternoon prematurely.
The ten men conceded again eight minutes from the end. Full back Grant Campbell was allowed to jink in from the right and trickle a low shot under Antell at his near post to add to County's misery.
Nairn grabbed a scant consolation in the final minute. A Kenny McKenzie corner from the right was not dealt with by McCarthy in the Wick goal allowing Sam Urquhart to stoop and head home from close range.
Nairn County - Antell (yellow 7), Pollock (y 59), Gethins (y 65) (Cameron 66), Gregg Main (red 75), Urquhart, Skinner, A. Naismith, C. Maclean, Duncanson, Glenn Main, Wallace (y 42)(McKenzie 79). Subs unused: Morrison, R. Naismith, D. Maclean (gk).
Wick Academy - S. McCarthy, Farquhar, M. Steven, D. Mackay, Campbell, S. Mackay, Pickles, MacAdie (R. Allan 60), Harrison, Weir (yellow 75) (MacGregor 78), D. Allan (y 65) (MacRae 87). Subs unused: Hughes, D. McCarthy (gk).
Pictures by Donald Matheson