Written by Nairn County FC November 19th 2016

PROUD Nairn County boss Ronnie Sharp saw his developing side take a point away at Highland League table toppers Brora Rangers and it could have been more for the visitors, who were never behind in another pulsating encounter. The fans are certainly getting value for money this season with a stylish brand of football yielding the goals it merits. And that was no different up against one of the meanest defences in the north. Sharp said: "I thought we were excellent in the first half and deserved to be ahead. We knew they were going to come back at us in the second half because they are a strong and powerful side with quality players." "We were hanging on at the end but we were down to 10 men, so given those circumstances, we would have taken the point." "We only put the team together three months ago, so to come up to Brora and take a point is a positive. Some of the football we played was terrific." Ross Naismith gave Nairn the lead with Gary Kerr smashing home a volley that had echoes of Zinedine Zidane's famous strike in the 2002 Champions League final at Hampden about it to double County's lead. Brora pulled one back before the break though to send Nairn in with a one-goal advantage at the break. Sharp reflected: "It was a great move for Ross's goal and an excellent, composed finish. Then, the second goal was a fantastic volley by Gary Kerr. I do not know how he did it but it was great technique and a great finish." "We gave them a lifeline with the goal before half time and that would probably have given them a boost because I thought we were the better team in the first half. It was like what happened to us at Huntly when we scored just before half time and that gave us the boost we needed to go on and win the game." "But we came out in the second half and looked dangerous from the off because we knew we had played well and the self-belief was there to go at them again. We said to the players before that we could not sit back and try to contain them – we had to have a go at them. You are not going to contain a team of Brora's quality for 90 minutes." Gregg Main's penalty restored County's two-goal early in the second half. Sharp added: "The penalty was awarded for a pull on Callum (Maclean) and that was the correct decision. The referee made a good decision there and had a clear view of it." "We showed a bit of inexperience towards the end though but you have to remember that we have a lot of boys who are new to the Highland League and a lot of young boys. You knew fine that with their quality, they were going to push everybody up and that is what they did." Brora's pressure eventually paid off as former Nairn striker Craig Campbell bailed the Cattachs out of what would have been an embarrassing defeat with a late double. But County goalkeeper Dylan Maclean put up the shutters to ensure that Nairn took the point that was the least they deserved for their performance. "Dylan's handling was excellent," Sharp commented. "I do not think he had too many spectacular saves to make but he was holding on to things and claiming crosses. He had an excellent game again and he is another young lad who is coming on and doing terrifically well." Wayne Mackintosh was red carded for a second bookable offence five minutes from the end despite appearing to make contact with the ball before clipping the Brora player. Sharp said: "We had to hold on for the last five minutes or so with 10 men and I did not think it was a sending off because I thought Wayne made a good challenge. That leaves us a bit short for next week with Gregg (Main) and possibly Wayne suspended, although we will have to wait to hear when Wayne's ban will kick in." "At the moment, our centre midfield has been terrific and I think you would struggle to find midfielders in the Highland League who are playing better than them. The three of them are controlling games like they did today against a team who are a terrific side and top of the league. But we matched them in every department and that bodes well going forward." Graeme Macleod

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