Written by Graeme MacLeod November 27th 2022


Goalscorers: Sam Gordon (51), Conor Gethins (72 pen, 83, 88)

Conor Gethins became the oldest player to net a Highland League hat-trick for Nairn County as his superb 16-minute treble won this local derby at Forres Mechanics.

The hosts went ahead just six minutes in. Jack Grant’s wind-assisted corner from the left floated into the net at the far post to give Forres a fluke opener.

We came close to a leveller but Gethins’ in-swinging free kick from the left was just beyond Fraser Dingwall at the far post.

But Forres doubled their lead on 23 minutes. Shaun Morrison headed a cross from the left back across goal at the far post and Ben Barron nipped in front of Fraser Dingwall to nod home.

Another Gethins delivery from wide on the left was again just missed by Dingwall at the back post before Sam Gordon’s low delivery from the left on the stroke of half time found its way through to Andrew Greig at the back post. But he side-footed it wide of goal.

After a sluggish first half, we came out like a team reborn after the break. Straight from the off, we were on the attack and almost halved the deficit when Wayne Mackintosh retrieved a Forres clearance off a Nairn corner and lifted the ball back into the penalty area. Ciaran Young got too much on the header though and sent the ball sailing over the crossbar.

But we found the net on 51 minutes. A Gethins corner from the left was cleared before being headed back into the danger area by Angus Dey. The next headed clearance dropped at the feet of Sam Gordon though and he showed great focus and technique to smash a low volley into the left-hand corner of the net from 20 yards.

Dey then passed up a fantastic chance to draw us level after he stepped on to a Greig cutback following a lightning Nairn break down the left but the unmarked midfielder’s effort flew over the crossbar.

But Forres stung Nairn with their third of the game on 64 minutes. A corner kick in from the left was kept alive at the edge of the box by Ryan McLeman, allowing the ball to break to Kane Davies and he rifled it into the roof of the net from 10 yards.

We pulled one back from the penalty spot on 72 minutes though. Craig Mackenzie stuck out an arm to block Sam Gordon’s cross inside the penalty area, giving referee Billy Baxter no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped Gethins and there was only ever going to be one outcome as he despatched the ball beyond Robert Donaldson in the Forres goal and it was game on again.

Gethins doubled his tally as he drew us level nine minutes later. Substitute Liam Shewan did well to drive to the by-line on the right and picked out Gethins with his cutback. The unmarked striker did the rest as he slammed the ball high and beyond the despairing Donaldson.

A Gethins free kick into the box was brought down by Ross Tokely, who appeared to have been fouled inside the box but the referee allowed play to continue. The ball broke to Greig and his snapshot from a tight angle on the left was repelled by Donaldson.

Then, a Gethins free kick from wide on the left was touched on to the far post by Donaldson as we went agonisingly close to taking the lead for the first time. The Forres number one then blocked Kenny McKenzie’s follow-up.

Our pressure paid off though on 88 minutes. Lee Fraser upended Gordon on the edge of the box an Gethins stepped up to whip the free kick around the wall and into the bottom corner to win it.

FORRES MECHANICS: Robert Donaldson, Craig Mackenzie, Thomas Brady, Jack Grant, Connall Ewan, Ryan McLeman, Ethan Cairns, Martin Groat, Lee Fraser, Ben Barron, Shaun Morrison (Kane Davies 53).
Subs unused: Logan De Oliveira, Luca McCullie, Harvey Henderson, Lucas Davidson, Conor McKay.

NAIRN COUNTY: Lewis Munro, Cameron Lisle (Sam Gordon 38), Stephen Rennie, Ross Tokely, Fraser Dingwall, Wayne Mackintosh (Kenny McKenzie 80), Grant Hogg, Angus Dey, Conor Gethins, Ciaran Young (Liam Shewan 64), Andrew Greig.
Subs unused: Adam Porritt, Seamus McConaghy, Lewis Mitchell, Dylan Maclean (GK).

Referee: B. Baxter.

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