Written by Nairn County FC August 16th 2016

FARID El Alagui's hat trick at Station Park helped Inverness CT to ease past a hard-working Nairn County. The visitors took the lead with just two minutes on the clock. Stephen Rennie's in-swinging corner from the right was met by the towering figure of Farid El Alagui and he sent a header crashing beyond Dylan Maclean and into the roof of the net. The game livened up again around the quarter-hour mark with Chris Moir's square pass infield being picked off by Aidan Wilson before the Inverness midfielder drilled a low shot past the near post. Almost immediately at the other end, Chris Moir attempted to round Ryan Esson but could only lift the ball inside for Jamie Mackay. His attempted volley spun up into the air and Wayne Mackintosh ran on to it but the County skipper's drive was beaten away by Esson at his near post. However, it was Inverness who struck again on 18 minutes. Jamie Mackay was short with his back pass from the right allowing Farid El Alagui to nip in and roll his second goal of the night under Dylan Maclean. A diving save from Ryan Esson kept the visitors two goals in front on the half-hour. The former Scotland goalkeeper threw himself to his left to tip away a Kerr header off a Mackay cross from the right just as the ball looked to be creeping inside the near post. Three minutes before the break, a neat interchange of passes put Aaron Doran in from the left but his curling effort was parried away by Dylan Maclean. Maclean was called into action again eight minutes into the second half as he clutched a Josh Meekings header off a Doran free kick. The busy Nairn stopper was beaten again in fortuitous circumstances on 58 minutes. A Doran cutback from the left was side-footed goalwards by El Alagui and just when it seemed as if Maclean was set to gather a simple shot at his near post, the ball deflected off the chest of substitute Jamie Wilson, as he found the net three minutes after taking to the field. Esson was called into action midway through the second half as the goalkeeper stood tall to keep out a Dylan Mackenzie drive from 12 yards after the Nairn sub had been played in by Mackintosh. The fourth goal arrived following the award of a dubious free kick on the standside touchline. Jack Maclean won the ball in a sliding challenge right in front of assistant referee Molly Alexander but the official flagged for a foul. From the delivery, Ali Sutherland knocked in his side's fourth of the night. Nairn can feel hard done by with the award of a penalty which led to a fifth Inverness goal on 79 minutes. Willie Barron attempted to usher a bouncing ball back to Maclean but was shoved in the back by El Alagui. That caused the Nairn defender to stumble, with the dropping ball striking him in the arm. Referee Ben Dempster awarded a penalty despite the apparent foul and Farid El Alagui stepped up to coolly stroke home for his hat trick. But County grabbed a consolation goal three minutes from the end. A clumsy Jason Brown tackle on Jason Morganti just inside the Inverness penalty area led to a spot kick, which Wayne Mackintosh stepped up to blast home. Nairn County – D. Maclean, Keogh (Morganti 76), P. Macleod, Riddell (S. Mackenzie 51), Mackintosh, C. Maclean, Kerr (Macrae 46), Moir, Mackay (D. Mackenzie 63), J. Maclean, Glenn Main (Barron 51). Subs unused: R. Macleod (gk). Inverness CT – Esson, C. Brown (Gilchrist 55), Rennie, Meekings, J. Brown, A. Wilson (J. Wilson 55), Robertson (Stark 55), Macarthur, El Alagui, Sutherland (Smith 81), Doran. Subs unused: McRitchie, MacDonald, Hoban (gk). Referee – Ben Dempster. Graeme Macleod

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