Written by Nairn County FC December 26th 2020

Dylan Maclean was the penalty shootout hero as we won through to the Second Round of the Scottish Cup at the expense of Broxburn Athletic in this Boxing Day cracker. The match had to take place behind closed doors at Station Park because of COVID-19 restrictions but was broadcast live on pay-per-view on NCFCTV. It was a real battle on a wet day with a swirling wind and neither side could find a way to goal after 120 minutes, which reflected the lack of real quality in the final third at both ends on a tough day for attackers. It came down to who could hold their nerve from the penalty spot and Maclean’s save made the difference as we prevailed 4-3 in the shoot out. Ronnie Sharp named an unchanged starting line-up for the third match in a row with Glenn Main taking the work-bound Adam Naismith’s place among the substitutes, which meant the teams were: Nairn County – Dylan Maclean, Callum Mackean, Cohen Ramsay (Kenny McKenzie 76), Adam Porritt, Fraser Dingwall, Calum Howarth (yellow 56), Max Ewan (Angus Dey 110), Tom Maclennan, Liam Shewan (Glenn Main 100), Scott Davidson, Gordon McNab. Subs unused: Callum Ednie, Jack Maclean, Seamus McConaghy, Will Counsell (gk). Broxburn Athletic – Connor Wallace (Shaun Donoghue 45+3), Andrew Gillen, Ross Hutchison, Shaun Harrison, Chris Townsley (Gordon Donaldson 119), Jordan Wright (yellow 55), Greg Binnie, David Greenhill, Gary Brass (Conor Kelly 24), Cameron Ross, Liam Ireland (Jack Beesley 77). Subs unused: Greg Redmond, Craig Turnbull, Rory Cosgrove. The visitors almost made a dream start to this First Round tie through Cameron Ross’s effort from 25 yards which was dipping and swirling in the air but Dylan Maclean was equal to it as he parried the ball to safety. We responded on two minutes with Gordon McNab stabbing a shot over the crossbar from 15 yards under pressure from closing in defenders after the ball had been squeezed through to him by his midfielder companion, Tam Maclennan. Gary Brass streaked away from the Nairn defence on six minutes but Fraser Dingwall sprinted back to put enough pressure on the striker to force to him send his right-footed shot crashing into the side netting at the near post. Maclennan went with the low one off a free kick from just outside the left-edge of the penalty box on the quarter-hour with the ball being well fielded by Connor Wallace in the Broxburn goal as it skidded over the greasy turf. Then, Max Ewan ran at the Broxburn defence down the right before slipping in Scott Davidson but Wallace did well as he was alert enough to advance from his line and get to the ball in a nick of time just as the Nairn striker was about to apply the finish. There was serious concern for Gary Brass on 24 minutes as he had to be stretchered off after going down at the edge of the penalty area. The striker was taken to hospital with a suspected broken ankle. Maclean made an outrageous save on 29 minutes to keep the scores level. Greg Binnie stepped inside from the left and let fly from 20 yards with an effort that looked goal-bound all the way. That was until the County goalkeeper dived to his left and got just enough of a glove to it to divert the ball over the crossbar. We responded two minutes later as the match swung from end to end as McNab’s shot from 25 yards was watched over the crossbar by Wallace, although it was a little closer to the target than the Broxburn number one appeared to have initially thought. Then, on 40 minutes, Cohen Ramsay’s low delivery from the left was flashed over the top first time by Liam Shewan at the near post as we looked for the breakthrough before the interval. Wallace had watched his opposite number make an impressive save at one end and he matched Maclean’s effort on 43 minutes. Davidson flicked on a ball forward which Shewan hooked over his head and towards goal first time. The ball seemed destined for the bottom right-hand corner until Wallace showed fantastic agility to scramble across his line and then dive and claw the ball to safety. Wallace then repelled McNab’s low drive from 22 yards away from goal at the expense of a corner on 44 minutes but it was to be his last serious involvement. He took a long kick forward three minutes into added time and immediately went down injured, having to be replaced and also taken to hospital along with Brass having dislocated a hip. We started the second half on the front foot and on 50 minutes, McNab rolled the ball into the path of Ramsay who was arriving from the left but substitute goalkeeper Shaun Donoghue stood up well at his front post to make the block. Davidson’s snapshot from 25 yards a minute later had Donoghue beaten but the ball bounced narrowly past the right-hand post. It was Broxburn’s turn to enjoy a spell on top as they struck the post on 61 minutes. David Greenhill’s free kick from 22 yards just to the right of goal had Maclean rooted to the spot as it flew across goal but the ball took a slight deflection, sending it on to the inside of the far post. Binnie then evaded two challenges as he advanced forward on 70 minutes but his shot was saved by Maclean. The visitors had a golden chance to go in front on 76 minutes when the ball broke to the unmarked Jordan Wright on the six-yard line. But he sclaffed his shot straight at Maclean and Nairn breathed a huge sigh of relief. The pendulum swung up the other end in the closing stages of the 90 minutes and two minutes before time up, Callum Maclean stooped to meet a Maclennan corner kick from the left with a header. The defender made a great connection and sent his powerful effort straight into the arms of a relieved Donoghue when a less true connection might have sent the ball flashing into the corner of the net. Then, in the final action of the 90 minutes, Maclennan stood over a free kick 22 yards out. The midfielder whipped the ball over the wall and it seemed destined to win the tie until Donoghue flew through the air and tipped the ball on to the crossbar to make it one stunning save apiece from all three goalkeepers. That meant we went into extra time and it was Broxburn who had the best of the first of the two 15-minute periods without threatening Maclean in the Nairn goal. Then, a minute after the turnaround, Kenny McKenzie almost got to a through pass ahead of Donoghue but the goalkeeper was brave as he dived at the Nairn wide man’s feet to thwart the danger. McNab then had possession 30 yards from the Broxburn goal in the dying minutes and with unmarked options either side of him and four defenders in front of him, he opted to shoot and the ball was charged down. The visitors thought they had won the tie three minutes from the end. A corner kick from the right dropped at the far post and Maclean made a great block to keep out the initial effort with the rebound then bundled home amidst an almighty scramble. But referee Lee Robertson saw a foul and disallowed the goal, ending the Broxburn joy as Nairn lived to fight another day with the tie destined to finish goalless. After both sides were unblemished with their first two strikes in the penalty shootout, David Greenhill dragged his effort past the left-hand post for Broxburn with Glenn Main then converting for Nairn to give us the advantage. But Gordon McNab missed our next spot kick following Jack Beesley’s conversion for Broxburn to make it level pegging again going into the final efforts of the initial five. This was Maclean’s moment to shine as he threw himself to his left to block Greg Binnie’s effort leaving Calum Howarth the chance to win it for Nairn. And he made no mistake by ramming home his penalty to instantly endear himself to his new club just three games into his County career after joining from Forres Mechanics in June. The shootout went: Conor Kelly (Broxburn): Scored Adam Porritt (Nairn): Scored Cameron Ross (Broxburn): Scored Tam Maclennan (Nairn): Scored David Greenhill (Broxburn): Missed Glenn Main (Nairn): Scored Jack Beesley (Broxburn): Scored Gordon McNab (Nairn): Saved Greg Binnie (Broxburn): Saved Calum Howarth (Nairn): Scored We now go into the hat for Monday evening’s draw for the Second Round of the competition with the tie to be played on January 9th. We wish Broxburn Athletic all the very best for the rest of the season and we have our fingers crossed that their players Gary Brass and Connor Wallace make speedy recoveries.

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