Written by Nairn County FC September 26th 2016

FRUSTRATED Nairn County boss Ronnie Sharp branded his side's first half showing in the Scottish Cup defeat to Preston Athletic as the worst 45 minutes of his reign so far. County found themselves three goals down at the break but despite a second half fight back which saw the hosts net twice through Ross Naismith, they were unable to retain their place in the competition. "We were very poor in the first half and were 2-0 down again in the first 10 minutes," Sharp exclaimed. "We were too far off players and our work rate was nowhere near what it was in the second half. That might have been down to nerves because it was the Scottish Cup and a lot of them have never played in this competition before. We were very quiet before the game started and the first half was very disappointing – it was probably the poorest half of football we have had." "We gave ourselves far too much to do in the second half. In the first half, we had chances but we never took them again. We had a clear cut chance at 1-0 and another one at 2-0and if we had taken one of those then it might have been a different game." Sharp made some tactical alterations at the break as he looked to find a way back into the tie. He added: "We were a lot better in the second half and maybe changing the system helped the players. They may not be comfortable with the system we have been trying to play. We have been getting caught on the counter attack too many times. It is when we are going forward that we seem to look really vulnerable and two of the goals in the first half came from that." The manager is looking for his players to be more clinical in the final third having seen this troops pass up enough chances to at least force the tie to a replay. He said: "We just did not play at all in the first half and although we managed to create two or three good chances, we did not take them and that has been costly. In the second half, we scored two good goals and created more but we are still lacking that composure in the last third of the park." "Ross Naismith took his goals and we showed good composure there but at times when we get into the last third, we are getting caught offside too many times and you cannot afford to give that momentum away." "We seemed to be a lot better when we were to two up front and three in the centre of the park. Because we have been struggling playing a certain way, maybe we will have to look to change it going forward." Graeme Macleod

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