Written by Nairn County FC October 13th 2016

RONNIE Sharp was delighted with how his players competed with Forres Mechanics after the dust had settled on a frantic derby clash at Station Park. Two early goals put Forres in control but Nairn battled back to level at the break through strikes from Gary Kerr and Kenny McKenzie. Kerr scored a further two goals after the break to twice give County the lead but a late Forres goal salvaged a point for the visitors. Sharp said: "We made a slow start to go 2-0 down and from that position, we probably would have taken a point. But we were 4-3 up going into the last five minutes, so that makes it different. It was a mistake for the equaliser but it is the first mistake Dylan (Maclean) the goalkeeper has made all season and we are not going to blame him for that at all – he has kept us in games most of the season." He added: "We seemed to lack a bit of confidence at the start of the game but once we settled down and got the game back to 2-1, we started really playing and I thought we played really well for 20-25 minutes in the first half as we got it back to 2-2." "We scored some really good goals and worked it very well. There was good running off the ball and Gary Kerr scored a superb hat trick. Overall, I thought it was a really good performance from us." Early goals from Lee Fraser and Stuart Soane appeared to put Forres in command but this Nairn team never knows when it is beaten and had the game level midway through the first half. It was a similar story for the hosts though, who have found themselves behind early on in games on more than their fair share of occasions this season. Sharp mused: "We need to believe in ourselves a bit more because we have really good players. Self-belief is a big thing though and a lot of them are new to Highland League. Over the season, they will become more confident." "Once we started to play, you could see us grow in confidence and that continued on to the second half as well when we created two or three good chances. I am delighted overall." All four Forres goals came from high balls into the box as the agricultural visitors looked to pummel County with diagonal deliveries to the far post to play off their aerial strengths. Sharp said: "Set pieces are hard to deal with and they are very, very strong at it. They are very good at long throws, corners and free kicks and you just cannot afford to give them away." "We are not the biggest team and our boys at the back are very skilful and mobile. You have to give up something and it means it is very, very hard to handle them at set pieces and cross balls." Kerr's goals saw him reach double figures from 13 outings so far this season. Sharp revealed: "He gave himself a target of 10 for the season in the summer and we are in October and he has reached it already. Hopefully that continues." "The whole team played well though and it is good to get other boys back as well. Wayne (Mackintosh) got time on the park, Gregg (Main) got time on the park and hopefully everybody else is fit for Saturday." "Some of the boys tired a bit and it was good to be able to make changes and bring experienced boys on." Kenny McKenzie also got off the mark for the season with County's second goal of the night after he was handed a start in centre midfield ahead of Mackintosh and Main in a demonstration of the competition for places now Sharp has something nearing his full squad to select from. The manager said: "That is what we are looking for – we want it to be hard to get into the team. We do not want it to be easy for players to come back and just step in." "The boys know their fitness needs to get up a wee bit more but I thought they both played really well when they came on." "Hopefully we can build on it. They are two players who have been here for a long time and have a lot of experience but if other boys can keep them out of the team then we know we are playing well." Graeme Macleod

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