Written by Nairn County FC April 7th 2016

DESPITE two cup final appearances in Nairn colours already to his name, Adam Naismith is in no doubt that Saturday's Highland League (Morganti) Cup showdown with Brora Rangers is the biggest match of his time at Station Park, writes Graeme Macleod. The full back featured for the club against Saturday's opponents in the 2013 final of the North of Scotland Cup and played in the same final against Wick Academy earlier in this campaign. Both of those ties ended in defeat but taking the Morganti Cup trophy back to Nairn on Saturday evening would more than make up for it. "This is the biggest game I have played in the Highland League," he declared. "This is my third full season at Nairn and it will be my third final. I came to the club to win trophies and to play in finals and that is why you play football." "Hopefully, we can put in a better performance than the last two cup finals and make a game of it. We seemed to roll over in the last couple of cup finals unfortunately but we are looking to give a good account of ourselves and get the win because this is the one we want to win – the North of Scotland Cup is a very good trophy but does not carry the same prestige as the Highland League Cup." Naismith admits that defensive frailties have cost Nairn dearly this season and knows that the backline are going to have to be at their best if County are to claim the cup this weekend. That will mean avoiding the habit of conceding soft goals at the start of either half, which has been a common feature throughout the season. And with Brora dropping points in the title race over the last few weeks, the Cattachs will be doubly determined to claim the cup to avoid a trophyless campaign. Naismith said: "It is going to take a real team effort to win the game. I missed the game when we beat Brora up there at New Year but from what I have heard, Les (Fridge, manager) set out a game plan and the boys followed it to the letter and by all accounts, we could have scored a few more goals." "It will be like that again – we all need to be at 100 percent from the off. We said on Saturday that Brora drawing at Wick was probably the worst result we could have wished for. It puts the league title out of their hands and they will be desperate not to finish the season empty handed. They will be going hell for leather on Saturday to avoid that and as well as that, this is the only trophy they have not won under the new regime." He added: "When you look throughout the season, if we do not start either half well we tend to concede early goals, whether that is at the start of the game or after half time." "I cannot put my finger on why but it is something we will definitely have to avoid on Saturday. We are going to have to start the game well because Brora are going to come out flying at us. We will have to ride out the storm for the first 15-20 minutes, try to gain a foothold in the game and take it from there." Naismith was a part of a three-man defence which shipped six goals to Wick Academy in that North of Scotland Cup final in November. "The scoreline made it look like we had a very, very bad day at the office," he said. "Yes, defensively we were not great, but going forward, we created a number of chances both before and after they went 1-0 up. We could easily have scored a couple of goals in that period and been well in the game." "But we conceded two quick goals to go 3-0 down and that is another problem we have had – we do not just seem to concede one goal but instead we switch off for the next five or 10 minutes after conceding and before we know it, we are 3-0 or 4-0 down and in a bit of trouble." "Hopefully, we can rectify that on Saturday because with the players we have in our team, we should be competing for trophies. It is what the fans want to see and what we want as players." "People are saying we have not had a great season but we have the potential to finish fifth in the league behind Turriff, Brora, Formartine and Cove, who have all spent quite a bit of money and we have also reached two cup finals." "That is not a bad season regardless of how the next few weeks go but we seemed to struggle massively against the clubs above us earlier in the season and a lot was made of that." The emergence of Kenny McKenzie at left back over the last few weeks has given manager Les Fridge an additional option with Naismith able to play on either side and Andrew Skinner also in contention to start on the right side of the defence. Naismith said: "Kenny has been excellent when he has played at full back. He gets stuck in, even though he does not look like that sort of boy. That position suits him because he can go forward and get back and has a very good engine on him." "And Skins is a very good footballer – he is a solid defender and he likes to play out from the back. I just hope that the knock he picked up on Saturday is not too serious." "Les knows that I will do whatever is best for the team. If he thinks it is best that I am not playing then that will not bother me as long as the team wins. Obviously, I am absolutely choking to play and hopefully I will get the nod but there is competition for places throughout the team." He added: "We have players who will hurt any team and if we are in touch with 20 minutes to go on Saturday, I would fancy us to get a goal." "We are capable of scoring at least one goal in every game we play. It is what we do defensively that is really going to dictate whether or not we come away with the trophy on Saturday." Graeme Macleod

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