Written by Nairn County FC December 12th 2020

Nairn County Reserves were knocked off the top of the North Caledonian League Division 2 as they suffered a narrow home defeat to Inverness Athletic. It is the first time this season Stuart Finnie’s young charges have been on the end of back-to-back defeats following their loss at Alness United the previous weekend. Finnie said: “We have played worse this season and won. The performance level was there but Inverness dug in and managed to grind out the win. “We completely dominated the second half but we just could not find a way through. It is something we are going to have to look at and work on over the Christmas break. There were a couple of games in pre-season which were similar where we lost narrowly despite having most of the play. It was similar on Saturday. “We have been quite clinical in front of goal this season and scored a lot of goals but we really struggled to break Inverness down. The goal we conceded was from a set piece, which was disappointing and that gave them a lift as it allowed them to sit in and try to defend their lead. “We knew going into the game that Inverness could be setup well defensively as they have had a few clean sheets already this season but unfortunately we were unable to come up with something which gave us a way through. “We have a few weeks break now to take stock and assess how we approach our remaining two fixtures. As I said, the performance on Saturday was much improved so we can take heart from that but we need to think about how we get back to creating more clear cut opportunities for our attacking players.” Inverness captain Liam Symonds rattled the post with thunderous effort five minutes in as the visitors threatened early on before Nairn had the ball in the back of the net three minutes later. But Kieran Duffty made his run a fraction too early as he was called offside having converted Darren Mota’s inviting delivery. Athletic went ahead midway through the first half when Ryan Keil’s corner kick from the left skiffed off the head of Luke Mackay at the near post and flashed past Gus Wilson in the Nairn goal. Duffty had Nairn’s best chance of the first half to draw level when he was played through on goal but he dragged his low effort beyond the far post and off target. Nairn cranked up the pressure after the restart with Duffty, Ciaran Young and Logan Hallam all passing up opportunities to net an equaliser. Then, the home side’s chances of taking something out of the game suffered a terminal blow 10 minutes from the end with captain and top scorer, Ciaran Young shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Lennox Lauder-Smith. Despite the numerical disadvantage, County continued to push on for the elusive equaliser but Inverness held on for the win which see the two sides swap places at the top of the table. Nairn County Reserves – Gus Wilson, Liam Balfour, John Grant, Scott Murray, Sam Gordon, Euan Logan (Louis Gordon 75), Robbie Mackenzie (Nathan Grant 65), Logan Hallam, Kieran Duffty (Ryan Moodie 65), Ciaran Young, Darren Mota. Subs unused: Duncan Robertson, Callum Morrison. Inverness Athletic – R. Macleod, Creighton, Smith, Symonds, Morrison, Gair, Shewan (Lauder-Smith 46), Keil, Mackay (Calvert 55), L. Macleod (Fulton 55), Davison. Subs unused: Patience, Grant.

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