Written by Nairn County FC November 7th 2020

Our Reserves soared to the top of the North Caledonian League Division 2 as they stunned pre-match leaders Loch Ness at Canal Park. We fought back from trailing twice in the first half through goals from Ryan Moodie and Robbie Mackenzie before Ciaran Young's second half double sent us clear. The home side did pull one back but after they were reduced to 10 men, Kieran Duffty's fifth goal of the season put the seal on a 5-3 success and ensured we ended Loch Ness's unbeaten start to the campaign. The win moves Stuart Finnie's side two points clear of their hosts at the top of the pile after four games but the Reserves Head Coach was frustrated at conceding three times for the third match in a row. He said: "We are absolutely delighted at the result although it really was not pretty at times. I think we can play a lot better but to be saying that and still come away with the win at one of the main title contenders is credit to the boys." "I actually could not believe we made it to half time at 2-2 because at times in the first half they were throwing everything at us and we struggled to match them physically. The pace of the game was ferocious as well but fair play to our boys for hanging in there, which gave us a chance to regroup at half time." He added: "The message was simple for the second half – be more competitive physically and be braver to get on the ball and use it better. I feel we did that, although it really was a battle out there and thankfully we came out on top this time." "I am critical of the goals we conceded once again because they were very poor goals to lose and we got quite lucky that they did not score more, so we definitely need to improve in that respect. But I thought we took all our goal really well once again." "What I am really impressed with is the willingness, the heart and the desire the boys are showing. They are giving us absolutely everything and as long as they keep turning up to training and games with that attitude every week then we will see where it takes us." "We move on to Scourie next week which will be another tough game. The more games they play, the more they will settle into the league and become comfortable, so we are expecting another battle." Finnie was without midfielder Euan Logan through work commitments, so recalled Logan Hallam in the only change to the starting line-up. Callum Morrison was back among the substitutes. Nairn County Reserves – Gus Wilson (yellow 24), Liam Balfour, John Grant, Scott Mutch, Nathan Grant, Logan Hallam, Robbie Mackenzie, Sam Gordon, Kieran Duffty (Louis Gordon 85), Ciaran Young (y 68), Ryan Moodie (Darren Mota 65). Subs unused: Kyle MacDonald, Callum Morrison, Duncan Robertson. There was a high tempo to the match from the off and it was the hosts who seized control as they looked for a repeat of their flying start when the two sides last met a fortnight ago. Wilson was called into action early on as he made a fantastic diving save to tip DJ Macphee's low shot on to the post. Loch Ness found a way to goal on 14 minutes though. A long throw into the penalty area found Macphee and he was allowed the space to turn and drill his shot past Wilson. We bounced back though and were level six minutes later. Duffty's cross from the right found Moodie and he crashed a volley beyond David Harrison in the Loch Ness goal. Macphee grabbed his second of the evening on 24 minutes as Loch Ness went back in front. The forward was brought down in the box by Wilson with the referee awarding a penalty kick and the Macphee despatched it to go clear as the top scorer in the league on six goals (but not for long – more on that to come). Just when it looked like Loch Ness would head in at the break in the lead, we were gifted an equaliser. Moodie was the provider this time when his cross from the left looked to be a routine catch for Harrison. But the goalkeeper dropped the ball to the feet of Robbie Mackenzie and the wide man gobbled up the simple chance to score his first goal for the club. It was a much-improved display from our youngsters as they stepped it up a level after the restart and the home side could not live with it. We went in front 10 minutes after the turnaround with Young being picked out with his back to goal by Mackenzie's cross from the right. The captain then spun his man and flashed a rising shot across Harrison and into the top corner to put us ahead for the first time. Things got even better nine minutes later. Mackenzie was fouled in the box and Young stepped up to crash the home the penalty kick to once again move ahead at the top of the league scoring charts with his seventh goal of the season. But Loch Ness put themselves right back in the hunt almost immediately as they pulled a goal back straight from kick-off. The Nairn defence switched off as Ryan Macleod ran in behind and the striker slotted the ball past the exposed Wilson to pull it back to 4-3. The home side's chances were dented 12 minutes from the end though with Reece Paterson receiving a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Mackenzie. Duffty had a great chance to kill it off with five minutes to go but he missed the target with his header from six yards out after meeting Mackenzie's cross. The striker was not to be denied though and he rounded off the win with a stunning free kick on 88 minutes. He bent his effort from 20 yards out to the right of the D around the wall and into Harrison's top right-hand corner to finish off the hosts and send us clear at the top of the table.

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