A POOR start cost Nairn County under-20s as they found themselves 3-0 down at Inverness Athletic in their latest pre-season friendly before battling back to narrowly lose out by three goals to two and creating enough chances to earn at least a draw.
Last season’s under-20s goalkeeper Aidan Stewart – who has been training with the squad prior to heading off to university next month – played between the posts for Athletic and put on an impressive display.
The hosts went in front with just five minutes gone. A left-footed cross from the right was flighted to the far post, where it was knocked home by Trialist.
Then, three minutes later, Athletic worked the ball in from the left with Liam Martin applying the finishing touch to double his side’s lead.
And with just 13 minutes on the clock, things went from bad to worse for the Nairn youngsters as DJ Macphee poked home from the edge of the box after latching on to a long ball over the County defence.
But Nairn rallied and Ciaran Young headed a Jack W. Maclean cross from the left just wide of the far post as the visitors looked for a response. And then, a minute later, Lewis Mitchell went through on goal but saw his effort blocked by the goalkeeper before the ball broke for Seamus McConaghy on the left. His delivery found the head of Young but he directed the ball straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.
McConaghy was then unmarked in the box when the ball deflected into his path on 23 minutes but his shot came back off the post before he fired narrowly over the crossbar from 25 yards seven minutes later.
The visitors found a way through though on 36 minutes. McConaghy won the ball back about 20 yards inside his own half, nutmegged an Athletic midfielder and then clipped a pass forward for Ciaran Young to run on to. He sprinted away from the Inverness defence before showing a cool head to stroke the ball under the advancing shot stopper.
Just three minutes later, Nairn unlocked the Inverness defence again and this time it was Tyler Eadie who raced in on goal to despatch a calm effort beyond the goalkeeper to reduce to arrears to just one.
Half time substitute Ryan MacBean almost made an instant impact with a glancing near post header off an out-swinging corner from the right but the ball came back off the inside of the far post.
Alex Geddes thumped a shot goalwards from 25 yards that seemed destined for the top corner all the way but grazed the crossbar on its way over the top.
Then, the visitors had a great chance to equalise from the penalty spot on 68 minutes after Sean McWilliams weaved into the box from the left before being fouled. But Cameron Maclean’s effort from 12 yards went straight down the middle and was saved.
That took the stuffing out of Nairn with the game petering out and only a MacBean angled shot across goal from the right on 70 minutes looked like salvaging a draw in the closing stages. But he sent his effort inches wide of the target.
Inverness Athletic – Trialist, Harrison, Trialist, McLafferty (Donoghue 46), Innes (Heath 55), Campbell, Bain (Fraser 46), Keil, Martin (MacDonald 55), Trialist (Mainland 46), Macphee. Subs unused: - .
Nairn County – Wilkie, Cuthbert (Cruden 46), J. W. Maclean (Gordon 68), Wheeler (Barron 56), R. Mackenzie (Robertson 30), Cameron Maclean, McConaghy (McWilliams 46), Campbell (S. Main 46), Young (MacBean 46), Mitchell (Geddes 46), Eadie (Payne 68). Subs unused: - .
Referee – Gordon Seago.