ELGIN City took full advantage of the overage players rule in the North of Scotland Under-20s League as they fielded a maximum allocation of senior players and saw them all play pivotal parts in this narrow victory over a youthful Nairn County.
Despite a goals-laden opening 13 minutes that saw the two teams tied at two goals apiece, it was Elgin's sole second half strike from 17-year-old Moray Taylor that stole the show as he secured full points for the hosts.
The home side broke the deadlock just three minutes in. Fraser Wilkie failed to hold on to a low shot from long range with Brian Cameron fastening on to the loose ball and skipping past Joe Cuthbert on the by-line to the left of goal before pulling the ball back for Calum Ferguson to fire a crisp drive across Wilkie and into the far corner.
Nairn were back on level terms two minutes later though. A corner kick from the right dropped to Matty Macleod in the box and he made no mistake from close range.
But parity lasted for just four minutes as Elgin went back in front on nine minutes. A contentious free kick was awarded to the hosts 30 yards from goal slightly left of centre and Ferguson floated an exquisite delivery into the box that was met by the charging Declan Byrne, who rose unchallenged in the box to crash a header beyond Wilkie.
County equalised for a second time with just 13 minutes on the clock. Ryan MacBean showed his pace to beat Leighton Duncan to the ball on the left before charging inside and bending a fine, angled effort with his right foot across goalkeeper Trevor Dear and into the far corner.
Elgin re-established their lead three minutes before half time. A corner kick from the right dropped to Calum Ferguson at the near post and he turned home his second goal of the evening.
City put daylight between the two sides 66 minutes in. Jake Reynolds-Jones got in behind his marker and squared the ball for Moray Taylor to step on to coming in from the left and the Elgin substitute bent a pinpoint effort across Wilkie and into the top corner with his right foot from just inside the box.
Nairn fought back again with a goal just three minutes later. Seamus McConaghy swung in a corner kick from the left and Max Ewan met it with a header that crashed into the roof of the net with the aid of a deflection.
County were reduced to 10 men three minutes from the end when Callum Ednie was shown the yellow card for a second time after Michael Watson had got goalside of the defender before being hauled to the deck.
Elgin City - Dear (Kelly 74), Duncan (Proven 77), McDade, Ballam, Edwards (yellow 85), Wilson, Ferguson (Watson 54), Scott, Reynolds-Jones (Loveland 74), Cameron (Taylor 46), Byrne. Subs unused: -.
Nairn County - Wilkie, Gordon (Payne 74), Ednie (yellow 53, 87), Cameron Maclean (Tweedie 79), Munro, Cuthbert, McConaghy (y 88), Ewan, MacBean (A. Main 79), M. Macleod, McDermott (Jack W. Maclean 65). Subs unused: Stewart (gk).
Referee - Alan Proctor.