Written by Graeme MacLeod August 27th 2022


Goalscorer: Liam Balfour (80)

Liam Balfour was the unlikely goal hero as the Reserves got off the mark for the season with a 1-0 home win over Bonar Bridge.

Balfour notched the only goal of the game to cap off a dominant second half showing to take us up to 7th in the 13-team league.

The visitors had a fantastic chance to open the scoring when they were awarded a penalty kick for a foul by Ross Peters after just two minutes. But the spot kick was placed off the right-hand post.

Head coach Stuart Finnie was without Kieran Duffty and John Grant, who had been called up to the First Team squad, with Scott Mutch, Reid Peterkin, Will Jack and Scott Stewart all injured and Murray Wilson and Duncan Robertson unavailable. And his selection issues deepened just five minutes in when Kyle MacDonald pulled up with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by 16-year-old Charlie Rae, making his North Caledonian League debut.

Peters came close to opening the scoring when he met Jamie Young’s cut back from the right but his flicked effort went across goal and wide.

Tyler Eadie shot wide from the edge of the box and Balfour saw a long ranger clutched by the goalkeeper but the best chance of the half fell to Kieran Thompson. He was unmarked to meet Robbie Lean’s right wing cross but he sent his header over the crossbar.

Young saw a glancing header flash past the far post after the restart with the goalkeeper beaten all ends up. The centre forward also went through on goal but took an extra touch to work the ball on to his favoured left foot and blasted straight at the goalkeeper.

Lean was then played in behind the Bonar Bridge defence by a diagonal pass from Trialist and appeared to be upended by the visitors’ left back but the referee waved play on.

Captain Grant Hogg and midfield counterpart Euan Logan were dictating the play in an imposing second half showing. Bonar then had another penalty reprieve when Young rounded the keeper and took the ball wide of goal. But as he clipped it back into the goalmouth, he was wiped out by the goalkeeper. The visiting defence scrambled it away but the referee did not pull it back for the foul in the box to the home side’s frustration.

Young continued to be a thorn in the Bonar Bridge side and only a great reaction save from the goalkeeper kept out a header from the centre forward after he met a cross from the right.

The visitors’ luck ran out 10 minutes from the end though. Rae’s charging run down the right led to his cross being deflected behind for a corner. Tyler Eadie’s delivery was knocked clear but the unmarked Lean collected it at the left edge of the penalty area. He flighted the ball back into the box with it rebounding off the far post. In the stramash that followed, the ball broke to Liam Balfour and he rammed it home from a couple of yards for his first goal for the Reserves.

The visitors looked to put the pressure on for an equaliser but goalkeeper Gus Wilson showed a save pair of hands behind solid centre back pairing of goalscorer Balfour and Trialist to wrack up the clean sheet which clinched the three points.

NAIRN COUNTY RESERVES: Gus Wilson, Liam Balfour, Ross Peters, Trialist, Euan Logan, Grant Hogg, Tyler Eadie, Robbie Lean, Jamie Young, Kyle MacDonald (Charlie Rae 5 (Max Scott 85)), Kieran Thompson (Trialist 46).
Sub unused: Trialist.

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