IAN Payne’s late strike ensured Nairn County U20s ended their home programme of fixtures for the 2017/18 season on a winning note with victory over Alness United.
A low key opening period saw little in the way of goalmouth action. Joe Cuthbert fired over after being picked out by Sam Gordon before Seamus McConaghy’s low shot from inside the box was held by Alness goalkeeper Adam Carter with the visiting shot stopper then clutching Ian Payne’s shot. At the other end, Aidan Stewart in the Nairn goal had to repel Miller Mackay’s effort.
The visitors went in front on 36 minutes. Chris Graham burst into the right-side of the box before picking out the bottom corner with a low drive across goal.
Alness should have doubled their lead two minutes before the interval but Mackay could only glance his close-range header wide of the far post after United had worked a short corner.
United went close again four minutes after the restart but Stewart did well to tip away Shaun Grant’s rising drive from a tight angle on the right.
County threatened on 52 minutes with the ball dropping to Cameron Maclean in the box off a corner from the left but his shot was blocked on the line with Sam Gordon’s follow-up also cleared.
But Maclean was not to be denied and he levelled the match two minutes later. Sam Gordon’s in-swinging free kick from deep on the left was not cleared properly and Cameron Maclean was on hand to ram the ball home.
Sam Campbell then put Sam Gordon racing in on goal from the right on 56 minutes but he could only put his shot well over the crossbar with time to pick his spot.
McConaghy then saw a low drive hacked clear by a defender on the goal line before Craig McDermott was clipped from behind going for the follow-up but no penalty was given.
Stewart then had to look sharp 15 minutes from the end as he beat away a powerful, rising Jude Fraser effort from close range.
Nairn went in front for the first time in the six minutes from the end. Ian Payne turned inside wide on the right and had the time to step on and lash a low effort across Carter and into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
Nairn County – Stewart, Wheeler, R. Mackenzie, Cameron Maclean, Cuthbert, S. Main (Morrison 75), Campbell, McDermott (Jack W. Maclean 75), Gordon (MacBean 65), McConaghy (yellow 88), Payne. Subs unused: Geddes, Wilkie (gk).
Alness United – Carter, Gilliland, Williamson, Graham, Symonds, Nicholson (Fraser 50), Hamilton, Munro, Mackay (yellow 87), Daw, Grant. Subs unused: McCouire.
Referee – Stephen McDade.