UNDERSTRENGTH Nairn County suffered a first under-20s North of Scotland League defeat at home to leaders, Clachnacuddin, writes Graeme Macleod.
Boss Ally Munro was shorn of the services of centre midfielder Jack Dickson through work commitments and top scorer Jordan Macrae because of injury with the striker breaking his arm last week to end his season. On top of that, Nairn suffered a pre-match blow with first team player Paul Macleod only able to take a place on the bench with family commitments preventing him from attending until after kick-off.
Under-17s striker Ryan McBean was rewarded for his two-goal showing on Sunday with his first start for the under-20s as he led the line in Macrae's absence.
The hosts competed well throughout a keenly-contested first half but their well-marshalled defence came unstuck just before half time. Dylan Mackenzie was sharpest in the box as he got the run on Craig Munro to dash towards the front post and meet a low Ally Velzian cross with a neat finish.
The closest Nairn came to levelling in the second half was on 72 minutes when Paul Macleod's weighted, forward pass sent Dominic Edwards racing in on goal but the New Zealander's blasted shot on the angle was comfortably touched over by Calum MacLean in the Clach goal.
The visitors added a second out of nothing three minutes later. Dylan Mackenzie wriggled his way infield from the corner flag on the left and managed to squeeze the ball under the exposed Ryan Macleod in the Nairn goal.
But County pulled a goal back with seven minutes remaining. Matty Macleod found Edwards on the left side of the box and his first time drive was spilled by Maclean with Paul Macleod the first man on the scene to ram the rebound high into the net from a couple of yards out.
Clach made sure of the win late on with two goals in the final couple of minutes. Goalkeeper Macleod allowed a tame effort from Mathew Grant to slip through his arms to make it three before Dylan Mackenzie rifled home for his hat trick in one of the last actions of the game to complete a 4-1 victory for the visitors.
Nairn County - R. Macleod, C. Mackinnon (Tweedie 82), Ednie, Munro, Barton, Green, Trialist (Alexander 78), Maclean, R. McBean (P. Macleod 46), M. Macleod, Edwards. Sub unused: Wilkie (gk).
Clachnacuddin - C. MacLean, A. MacLean, Taylor, Grant, Nicolson, MacLeod, Trialist, S. Lisle, MacKenzie, Yoxon, C. Lislie. Subs: Fraser, MacIntosh, Johnstone, MacRae.