Written by Nairn County FC October 10th 2021

Ciaran Young grabbed a double on his first home start but Wick Academy twice struck back to escape from Station Park with a share of the points.

Young had us ahead at half time and netted again after Steven Anderson had levelled for Wick. But Gordon MacNab’s effort 20 minutes from time meant Nairn’s home frustrations continue – that is now five fixtures at Station Park where Ronnie Sharp’s men have opened the scoring but failed to convert it into victory.

Sharp made one change from Wednesday night’s win at Huntly with Adam Porritt back from suspension and Sam Gordon rested, which meant the teams were:

Nairn County – Dylan Maclean, Adam Porritt, Callum Ednie, Glenn Main (yellow 26), Ryan Fyffe (y 84), John Treasurer, Seamus McConaghy (Sam Gordon 59), Rory Williamson (Grant Hogg 83), Dylan Mackenzie (Conor Gethins 72), Scott Davidson, Ciaran Young (y 87). Subs unused: Angus Dey, Lewis Mitchell, Will Counsell (gk).

Wick Academy – Graeme Williamson, Alan Hughes, Ryan Campbell, Ross Allan, Danny Mackay, Jack Halliday, Jack Henry, Gordon MacNab (yellow 65), Steven Anderson, David Allan, Mark MacAdie (Liam Bain 86). Subs unused: Gary Manson, James More (gk).

We were inches away from going ahead just five minutes in. Wick goalkeeper Graeme Williamson sprinted out of his goal to clear but only succeeded in sending the ball straight to Rory Williamson but the Nairn midfielder’s first time lob dropped just inches past the left-hand post.

The home fans did not have to wait much longer for the opener though. Adam Porritt launched a free kick from the halfway line out on the right towards the edge of the penalty area, where it was expertly chested down by Scott Davidson. He showed great strength to fend off Wick defender Danny Mackay and knock the ball back to the unmarked Ciaran Young and the young striker drilled a low effort into the bottom left hand corner to mark his first home start with a goal.

The visitors almost levelled straight away but Steven Anderson’s first time effort from 22 yards flew just over the crossbar.

Dylan Mackenzie got off the mark for the campaign at Huntly on Wednesday night and he almost added to his season’s tally on 19 minutes when he was slipped down the inside channel by Young but his low effort was deflected just wide of the near post by an outstretched leg of a Wick defender.

The corner which followed was only cleared as far as the lurking Seamus McConaghy just outside the penalty area and his volley flashed just over the crossbar.

Wick went up the park with David Allan driving down the right before feeding Mark MacAdie. The young attacker turned and managed to dig out a shot from 15 yards but it failed to trouble Dylan Maclean as the ball floated over the crossbar.

The action continue to swing from end-to-end with Young again picking the lock with a pass through to Mackenzie but this time his effort was clutched by Williamson.

We then passed a fine chance to go two ahead. Young wanted to work the ball on to his left foot and took the extra touch instead of letting fly with his right from close range. That gave Williamson that extra split second to move further across his goal line to make a block before Davidson’s follow-up was smuggled behind for a corner by a couple of defenders.

Porritt then floated across the set piece from the right which was met by a towering header from John Treasurer at the far post. His effort was pushed up into the far by Williamson with the ball eventually being headed clear by the Wick defender on the right-hand post.

Porritt was then involved at the other end as he had to make a fantastic sliding intervention to thwart Anderson on 27 minutes after the Wick attacker had got in behind the Nairn defence down the Wick left. From the corner which followed, Dylan Maclean excelled as he got down to his left to keep out Allan from close range after the ball had broken kindly to the unmarked Academy forward.

Three minutes later, Glenn Main’s deep cross from the right found the head of Rory Williamson at the far post but his namesake in the Wick goal got down well to save the County midfielder’s effort.

Academy finished the half strongly with Gordon McNab collecting a ball inside from the left touchline and driving infield on 39 minutes. It opened up in from of the Wick attacker for him to let fly with a rising, right-footed drive from 22 yards. The former Halkirk United man must have thought he had scored when the ball left his boot but Maclean had other ideas, as he threw himself to his left to make a magnificent save, tipping the ball away from the top corner.

John Treasurer was then the hero to keep us in front on 43 minutes. Anderson made the space to deliver from the right and his low ball in fizzed towards the front post and looked as if it only needed a touch to divert on target to be sure of a goal. Jack Henry got to it first to get that touch but he had not bargained for Treasurer appearing from nowhere to throw himself into a sliding block which kept us in front at the interval.

We went close to going two in front on 53 minutes only to find ourselves back on level terms barely 10 seconds later. It all started with a burst down the right from Porritt, who had the space to roll the ball inside to Davidson. The County forward let it run across his body and on to his favoured left foot only to see his shot blocked by a defender. Wick then broke up the park with Anderson timing his run in from the left to stay onside. The former Rothes striker was in behind the Nairn defence and he coolly slipped an angled effort beyond the exposed Maclean.

But just eight minutes later, we were back in front and it was a fine solo effort from Young. Callum Ednie’s throw in from the left 15 yards into the Wick found the feet of Young and he managed to turn away from his man and side step another defender as he advanced into the box. The attacker then had the whites of the goalkeeper’s eyes in his sights and unleashed a sizzling low effort which was past Williamson before he could react, with the ball fizzing across goal and into the bottom corner.

Again though, we could not hold on as Wick brought themselves level once more 20 minutes from the end. A low delivery in from the right was cleared out to McNab, who found himself unmarked to step on to the loose ball and guide it beyond Maclean from 20 yards.

Indeed, McNab nearly won it for his side nine minutes from the end. The attacker had the space to let fly from close range to the left of goal but his drive being parried away by Maclean at his near post.

The closest we came to winning it was on 83 minutes. The ball dropped nicely for Davidson to volley goalwards from just outside the box. The centre forward caught it as sweetly as he could have asked but Williamson was equal to it, touching the ball over the top to ensure there was no dramatic fifth goal of the game to win it as there was at Hampden later in the day as both teams settled for a Desmond.

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