Written by Nairn County FC July 14th 2021

It was a delight to welcome our fans back to Station Park for the first time in seven months last night as we took on Dufftown in a pre-season friendly. It looked like it might be a frustrating night for the home crowd as Dufftown's rear guard action restricted us to just Rory Williamson's first-minute goal for long spells until Scott Mutch made the breakthrough with the crucial second as the second half wore on. It was Mutch's second goal in as many First Team appearances as he followed up his debut strike at Forres Thistle with one on his home bow. The 19-year-old was only called up to pre-season training from the Reserves Team a couple of weeks ago following long term injuries to Calum Howarth and Lewis Mitchell and certainly seems to be making the most of his surprise opportunity. Mutch's strike was followed up by a double from Liam Shewan with Max Ewan's effort sandwiched in between before Finlay Stables saw red late on for the visitors. Glenn Main and Tom Maclennan came back into the starting line-up with the latter taking on the captain's armband or the first time, although his appearance only lasted 20 minutes after he was the victim of a crunching challenge to his ankle, the results of which make him a major doubt for the opening day trip to Keith a week on Saturday. The teams were: Nairn County – Will Counsell, Glenn Main, Kenny McKenzie (Ciaran Young 51), Callum Maclean, Trialist (Fraser Dingwall 46), Callum Ednie (Scott Mutch 74), Max Ewan, Tom Maclennan (Angus Dey 20), Liam Shewan, Cohen Ramsay, Rory Williamson (Sam Gordon 55). Sub unused: Dylan Maclean (gk). Dufftown – Brogan Fraser, Mark Thomson (Bruce Morrison 52), Gary Aspinall (Caiol Proven 52), Kelvin Main, Finlay Stables, Scott Thompson, Callum Clark (Shaun Cameron 64), Benjamin Cullen (Bodhi Tewnion 79), Jamie Stables (Milo McBain 79), Shaun Gair, Karl Harris (Cameron Grant 52). Subs unused: – . Williamson’s strike came just as the clock was about to strike the one-minute mark. Callum Maclean’s raking pass was controlled by Cohen Ramsay into his stride. The left-sided player’s first touch made the opening as it took him inside his marker and allowed him the time and space to lift his head and pick out Williamson arriving at the far post. And the summer signing made no mistake as he sprinted in to blast home the opener. Williamson was involved again on five minutes as his thumped cleared from a Dufftown corner put Liam Shewan in behind the visitors’ back line. But his effort while under pressure from a tracking defender was blocked by Brogan Fraser in the Dufftown goal. The visitors stemmed the tide for the next 20 minutes when then endured a spate of Nairn chances, although they saw it out to still only trail by one. First of all, Max Ewan’s cut back from the left on 24 minutes found Ramsay running into the box but his first time effort was tipped over by Fraser at the near post. Ewan’s ball forward into the inside left channel two minutes later found Gussie Dey as we broke forward. He slipped in Shewan but the striker’s drive was repelled by Fraser’s foot. Then, 60 seconds later, Dey’s short corner from the left found Ramsay and his delivery found the unmarked Shewan at the far post but his header was blocked by Fraser. We took until just before half time to threaten again and this time it was Dey with the corner kick from the left which was header over by Callum Maclean. It was Dufftown who had the first chance of the second half with Finlay Stables playing in James Stables but he took a slightly heavy touch in the penalty area and Nairn goalkeeper Will Counsell was alert and sharp off his line to smother. Ciaran Young came on up front and brought added power to the Nairn front line, nearly scoring in his first involvement but he did not catch his shot right off Shewan's cross from the left on 54 minutes and Fraser got down well to save. The returning Fraser Dingwall's long pass forward on 63 minutes released Young but again he was denied by Fraser. Scott Thompson was free to meet a Dufftown free kick from the right with a header on 70 minutes but he could not get over the ball and send his effort over. Nairn then found a way through to grab a second goal and break Dufftown's resistance which proved the catalyst to finish the game strongly. Scott Mutch came on in the middle of the park on 74 minutes and in his first involvement, he collected the ball just outside the centre circle, evaded a challenge and then drove forward, showing great determination to hold off a recovering defender and composure to roll the ball under the advancing goalkeeper from 15 yards out for his second goal in a week. Just a minute later, Young's cross from the by-line on the left was volleyed over by Sam Gordon at the near post and then on 77 minutes, Shewan's run in from the right was not tracked as he met Dey's through pass and wrapped his left foot around the ball, bending it into the far corner from 15 yards out to make it three. Shewan's low shot across goal from the left went an inch the wrong side of the post as he went in hunt of his second. Young's great reverse pass on 84 minutes was latched on to by the unmarked Ewan, who ran on to it from the left before slotting the ball under Fraser to add County's fourth. Sam Gordon looked lively when he came on and his persistence was rewarded with his side's fifth goal. He chased down a lost cause as he pressed the goalkeeper on the by-line, forcing Fraser to botch his clearance straight to Shewan. The forward then lifted it into the unguarded net from just outside the box to punish the Dufftown goalkeeper's only error of the night. The visitors finished with 10 men as James Stables saw red for a challenge on Dey three minutes from time. Many thanks to Dufftown for the game and best wishes for your season.

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