Written by Nairn County FC December 24th 2016

IT could have been a different story for Nairn County at North Lodge as the visitors passed up a hatful of chances in a first half that saw the visitors score twice from the few chances they created. An even second half saw continue to trouble Ewan MacDonald in the Formartine goal but the United stopper picked up where he left off in the first half and continued to excel. The hosts were dominant from the off and found an opener eight minutes in. Neil Gauld held the ball up on the edge of the Nairn box with his back to goal before slipping it into the path of Graeme Rodger and the midfielder strode forward to blast the ball into the roof of Dylan Maclean's net. But County settled down and almost found themselves level on 19 minutes when Gregg Main's free kick from the edge of the box was parried by MacDonald – on his way to a man of the match display – back into the danger area but no Nairn player was on hand to knock in the rebound. The visitors should have been level on 31 minutes. Kenny McKenzie broke down the left and worked the ball inside to Wayne Mackintosh. The skipper slipped it to Jack Maclean breaking into the box from the right and from just six yards out, he blasted at the advancing MacDonald, who spread himself well to deny the County youngster. Nairn controlled the first half after falling behind but found themselves two down on 39 minutes. Scott Barbour clipped a cross to the back post from the left and Neil Gauld arrived on the scene with perfect timing to place a downward beyond Dylan Maclean. The visitors were incredibly denied a penalty two minutes later with McKenzie stretching and meeting a through pass into the box before being taken down by a late challenge but to the disbelief of the few watching spectators, referee Will Smith booked the Nairn man for simulation. Nairn started the second half on the front foot and on 62 minutes, it needed a slight head flick by Derek Young just inside the far post to prevent McKenzie's in-swinging corner from the right from dropping into the net. Conor Gethins picked out Barbour racing in from the left on 67 minutes but the Formartine attacker blasted a low shot at Maclean, who did well to smother at his near post. Ross Naismith found the run of Gregg Main on 71 minutes and the Nairn midfielder then teed up his attacking team mate but he blasted straight at MacDonald from 18 yards. It was Main's turn to go close on 83 minutes but his curling shot from just inside the box off a Jack Maclean lay-off was kept out by a superb diving save from MacDonald. County goalkeeper Maclean was called into action at the other end two minutes later as he used a foot to block Liam Burnett's low shot from a tight angle on the right. Formartine United – Macdonald, Young, Dingwall, Smith, Crawford (yellow 11), Ferries (y (90+1), Rodger, Masson, Gauld (Gethins 65), Anderson, Barbour (y 82) (Burnett 84) (y 90+3). Subs: Lawrence, Lawson, Berton, Henry, Reid (gk). Nairn County – D. Maclean, S. Mackenzie, C. Maclean, Riddell (Barton 65), Glenn Main, Mackintosh, Naismith (D. Mackenzie 73), K. McKenzie (yellow 41), J. Maclean, Gregg Main, MacRae (Ednie 81) (y 88). Subs unused: Morganti, R. Macleod (gk). Referee – Will Smith. Graeme Macleod

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