Written by Nairn County FC July 7th 2021

It was somewhat understandable that it took the players a little while to find their groove in last night’s return to action at Forres Thistle but after being pegged back by our hosts before the break, we eventually hit our stride in front of goal. Manager Ronnie Sharp was without Fraser Dingwall and Grant Hogg while Calum Howarth, Lewis Mitchell, Seamus McConaghy and Dylan Maclean were injured, Dylan Mackenzie was on holiday and front pairing of Conor Gethins and Scott Davidson were not risked. Sharp took a look at a trialist and handed a start to summer signing Rory Williamson, which meant the teams were: Nairn County – Will Counsell, Callum Ednie (Glenn Main 46), Kenny McKenzie, Callum Maclean, Trialist, Cohen Ramsay (Scott Mutch 72), Max Ewan, Rory Williamson, Angus Dey (Tom Maclennan 46), Ciaran Young (Sam Gordon 54), Liam Shewan. Forres Thistle – Daniel McLeod, Alex Innes, Stewart Hunter (Ryan McPherson 62), Craig Robertson (Lee Davidson 82), Matthew Milne (Callum Gemmel 39), Ross Kelman, Brandon Hutcheson (Neil Owen 69), Ross Paterson, Matthew Fraser (Graham Steele 72), James Maclaren (Danny Black 62), Matthew Davidson (Sean McIntosh 62). Referee – Ally Bruce. It was a tentative opening from us as we eased our way back into action having only played one match in six months. A slack pass back to Will Counsell by Callum Ednie was collected by James Maclaren and he cutely lifted the ball over the head of the Nairn goalkeeper, with his effort dropping just past the far post to the relief of the visitors. Max Ewan teed up Ciaran Young at the other end but under pressure from a defender, he did not quite catch his shot correctly from just inside the box and it was held by Jags goalkeeper, Daniel McLeod. A minute later, Liam Shewan put Young in from the left but McLeod stood up well to deny the young striker by blocking his angled drive. The ball spun up into the centre of the goalmouth and dropped to Angus Dey but his rising drive cleared the crossbar. Dey was not to be denied though and opened the scoring on 12 minutes. Shewan was unlucky to see his effort from just inside the box on the left flash across goal and come back off the inside of the far post before rolling across goal and hitting the other post. It was a let-off for the hosts but their luck ran out as the ball dropped at the feet of Dey on the six-yard line and he had a tap-in to put us one up. Forres came more into the game though and on 19 minutes, Matty Davidson's shot across goal was deflected behind for a corner before our Trialist stumbled into the back of Davidson inside the penalty box, upending the Thistle striker for a penalty kick on 31 minutes. Ross Paterson stepped up to stroke home from 12 yards and level the scores. Nairn pressed to find the lead again before half time and 10 minutes before the interval, Shewan's in-swinging corner kick from the right had to be touched on to the crossbar by McLeod. Shewan went close again on 39 minutes when he was picked out by Ewan after the Nairn wide man had been sent on a raid by Cohen Ramsay. But the ball was just a bit too far behind the forward and he could only divert the ball wide at the near post. Immediately after the restart, Glenn Main picked out Ewan with a ball over the top from right back but his low shot tricked across goal and wide. Young then sent the busy Ewan to the by-line on the left on 50 minutes. His delivery found Young a few yards out but there was a defender in the way to block the striker's goal-bound effort. Half time substitute Tom Maclennan whipped in a cross from the right on 55 minutes which Shewan redirected on target but a fine reaction save from McLeod denied the Nairn attacker as he threw his arms up into the air to make the save and keep the score level. Maclennan then took a quick free kick a minute later to send Shewan free down the left. He took a touch to set himself but could only shoot straight at the goalkeeper. Rory Williamson's cross from the right on 58 minutes was crying out to be attacked but Ramsay was caught underneath it as he sent his header from close range well over the crossbar. We finally found a way back in front a minute later though and Williamson was involved again. He took a superb first touch to control Maclennan's raking, diagonal pass into his stride before firing in a low cross which was turned into his own net by the back-tracking Craig Robertson at the near post. Sam Gordon then made a great run in from the right to meet Trialist's straight ball forward. He headed it on to Shewan, who picked out Ewan but after beating two defenders, he saw his shot parried by McLeod. A Williamson through pass put Ewan in on goal but with the time to pick his spot and under no pressure from any defenders, he could only place his the ball past the post. Scott Mutch from the Reserves Team came on to make his debut on 72 minutes and just seven minutes later, he marked it with a goal. Ewan pulled the ball back from the by-line on the left to Gordon with his back to goal, who then laid it off for Mutch to step on to and stroke a low shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net from just inside the box. We saved the best for last though with Maclennan rounding off the score on 86 minutes. He stepped up to a free kick some 25 yards out and whipped a powerful, dipping effort into the top left corner of the net to leave McLeod helpless. We nearly made it five with two minutes remaining but Ewan's cross from the left was missed by the stretching Gordon in the middle and then blasted over by Williamson at the far post. Thanks to Forres Thistle for the game and best wishes for the season.

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