Written by Nairn County FC February 22nd 2017

A DRAMATIC finale and extra time period saw nine-man Nairn County advance to the quarter finals of the Highland League (Morganti) Cup by turning the tables on Deveronvale. The visitors to Princess Royal Park netted a 92nd minute equaliser before being reduced to nine men within the first three minutes of the additional half-an-hour. But a backs-to-the-walls extra time display and the electric pace of Dylan Mackenzie up top won the day as the young striker won a penalty to go with his goal during the regulation 90 minutes and Gregg Main did the needful from 12 yards. Nairn started positively and on seven minutes, a Gregg Main corner kick from the left was glanced just past the far post by the approaching Callum Maclean. The home side responded on 10 minutes with Zander Jack lifting his head and flashing a 25-yard shot just past Dylan Maclean's right-hand post. On 21 minutes, Gregg Main's free kick from deep on the right dropped just behind Ross Naismith in the box and he screwed the ball back across goal and just wide of the near post. The hosts went close to breaking the deadlock on 57 minutes when the ball broke to Scott Begg on the edge of the box after a throw-in from the left and he cracked a volley just wide of the near post. Then, two minutes later, the Banffers advanced down the left and this time it was Grant Noble who blasted past the front stick. Nairn were a hair's breadth away from breaking the deadlock on 75 minutes. Substitute Dylan Mackenzie surged down the left and clipped in a cross from the by-line that Naismith glanced towards the far post with his head but the ball bounced agonisingly back off the inside of the goal frame. But two minutes later, Deveronvale opened the scoring. Dane Ballard nicked the ball off Gregg Main 35 yards out from goal before sprinting forward to slide a powerful low drive under Maclean from the edge of the box. County levelled it in dramatic fashion two minutes into stoppage time. Jordan Macrae's long throw from the right was flicked on by Calum Riddell at the near post with Dylan Mackenzie running in to touch the ball over Grant Pennet. That took the game into extra time but Nairn were reduced to nine men within the first three minutes of the additional period. Wayne Mackintosh saw a second yellow for an innocuous foul and was soon followed up the tunnel by Jordan Macrae for a similar offence as they picked up the eighth and ninth bookings of the match despite there barely being a heavy challenge all night from either side. Unbelievably, Nairn went in front on 100 minutes. Callum Maclean's clipped ball into the channel on the left was latched on to by Dylan Mackenzie. With no options or support, he skinned Lukas Krobot to advance into the box, where he was hauled down by Steven Fraser after skipping past the lumbering centre half. Gregg Main stepped up to slam home the penalty kick before reminding the mouthy 'Vale fans behind the goal that they had been silenced. The hosts had all the possession and the territory but Nairn nearly struck on the break again on 105 minutes as Mackenzie raced in on goal from the left and his drive had to be tipped past the far post. It was the same again in the second half of extra time but Kenny McKenzie almost added to Nairn's lead on 116 minutes after jinking in from the left but Grant Pennet in the 'Vale goal stood up well to make a superb block at his near post. Deveronvale – Pennet, Dunbar (yellow 33), Aitken (y 92), Krobot (y 112), Davidson (Fraser 83), Forbes, Jack (y 37), Watt (Begg 50), Ballard, Noble, Murray (Ross 8). Subs unused: Willox, Manson, Souter, Mackie (gk). Nairn County – D. Maclean, S. Mackenzie (D. Mackenzie 61), C. Maclean (yellow 85), P. Macleod, Glenn Main, Mackintosh (y 90, 91), Naismith (y 33) (Riddell 83), K. McKenzie, Macrae (y 74, 93), Gregg Main (y 11), Morganti (Barton 91). Sub unused: Wilkie (gk). Referee – Ben Dempster. Graeme Macleod

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