Written by Nairn County FC August 22nd 2021

Logan Hallam’s injury time strike gave our Reserves Team all three points in a dramatic opening day encounter with St Duthus in the North Caledonian League.

The two teams were level at the break after Kyle Mackenzie and Ciaran Young traded strikes.

Young then netted what looked like the winner just three minutes from the end of regulation time.

But Tain substitute Billy Cairns appeared to have snatched his side a point when he equalised just a minute later.

But the drama was not over there and Hallam swept home the winner four minutes into injury time to secure the three points.

After the game, Reserves Head Coach Stuart Finnie said:

“I am absolutely delighted for the boys getting the win. It was a really tough game against a strong side but I think it was a deserved win.

“The boys put in a superb effort and kept going. When it went to 2-2 so late, I was worried about how we would react to it but to their credit, they bounced back superbly and found a winner and although there were some scary moments, it gave us something to hold on to.”

He added:

“It is a great start to the season but it is only a start. We now need to go away and think about where we can improve and work on it at training for our next game away at Halkirk.

“I honestly cannot give the squad enough credit today though. The hunger and desire was excellent from start to finish.”

Finnie handed starts to Young, Sam Gordon, Scott Mutch and Grant Hogg – who had all done pre-season with the First Team – and fielded Adam Porritt as he made his first appearance since returning to the club earlier in the week.

That meant the team was:

Nairn County Reserves – Gus Wilson, Liam Balfour (Nathan Grant 46), John Grant, Callum Morrison, Adam Porritt, Scott Mutch, Robbie Mackenzie (Logan Hallam 61), Grant Hogg (Shaun Young 73), Kyle MacDonald (Trialist 90+5), Ciaran Young, Sam Gordon (yellow 66).

Sub unused: Duncan Robertson. St Duthus – Ryan Renwick, Adam Allan, Gary Millard (yellow 83), John Skinner, Duncan Davidson (y 27), Paul Gair (y 90+12), Connor Smith, Finn As-Chainey, Ben Bruce, Jacob Lockett, Kyle Mackenzie.

Subs: Billy Cairns, Lewis Smith, Alan Geegan, Daniel Hutchison.

The visitors started well and just a minute in, Ben Bruce’s back post header off a corner from the left dropped just beyond the far post.

Bruce then had the ball in the net when a free kick from wide was flicked on for him to apply the finishing touch.

But he made his run a fraction too early and was called offside.

St Duthus had dominated the opening stages but we looked lively on the break and from one of those early counter attacks, we won a corner kick which Sam Gordon delivered from the left and Ciaran Young net with a near post header after the ball had flashed up off the fiery surface.

But Tain goalkeeper Ryan Renwick rose well to clutch.

The opener arrived on 25 minutes and it was no surprise that it went the way of the visitors.

Jacob Lockett was the provider as he whipped a low delivery across the face of goal from the left and Kyle Mackenzie was on hand at the back post to cushion the ball beyond Gus Wilson.

Our response was almost instanteous though as we equalised just three minutes later. Duncan Davidson was lucky to escape with just a yellow card as he chopped down Gordon from the back after the winger had got in behind the Tain defence and was about to enter the penalty area and advance in on goal.

That presented us with a free kick inches outside the left side of the box and Young raced across his marker to meet Gordon’s in-swinging delivery with a header which flew beyond the helpless Renwick and into the net.

That led to an action packed few minutes and the impressive Bruce will have felt he should have done better when he found himself unmarked in the Nairn box to connect with a free kick delivery.

But he sent his header over the crossbar.

At the other end, Gordon went in behind down the left again and this time picked out Kyle MacDonald with a low delivery but he was crowded out and the visitors eventually cleared their lines.

A lovely diagonal pass by Young again saw Gordon outstrip Tain left back Gary Millard and go past Davidson but with time on his hands to close in on goal, the Nairn wide man shot wildly into the side netting at the near post with the outside of his boot.

Debutant Grant Hogg nudged a bouncing ball past a Tain defender in the penalty area three minutes short of the break before being clattered into and grounded but the referee saw no foul.

There was concern for the visitors shortly after half time when Tain players Ben Bruce and Finn As-Chainey clashed heads with one another.

After a lengthy delay, both players continued.

It was our turn to make a strong start to a half as we applied waves of pressure to the creaking Tain backline during the first 20 minutes following the restart.

On 56 minutes, MacDonald made a fantastic run to the by-line on the right, dragging the ball away from John Skinner before delivering low across goal but Davidson was on hand to screen at the near post with Young awaiting a tap in.

Young then evaded two challenges on 58 minutes as he meandered in from the left but his powerful drive from 20 yards was tipped on to the near post by Renwick.

Young came close again two minutes later when he met Gordon’s corner kick from the right with a glancing header but he could not get enough on to his effort as the ball flashed across goal and was knocked behind for another corner, which was our fourth in succession.

Hallam came on as a substitute on 61 minutes and he could have made an instant impact just a minute later.

Young’s flick on dropped at his feet in the box and he did well to work the space for himself but he went for power rather than accuracy with his angled shot from the right and blasted across goal and wide of the far post from 10 yards.

Gordon then went on another of his enterprising runs down the right on 64 minutes and tried to pick out Hallam in the middle but the goalkeeper got there just in front of the Nairn forward.

For all of our pressure, the match was still level and Tain came right back into it following the midway point of the second half.

A free kick in from deep on the left was nearly headed in for an own goal by Callum Morrison from close range at the far post but Wilson blocked superbly with his legs and Hogg hacked it clear.

A fantastic through pass by As-Chainey put Bruce in on goal and he went around Wilson.

The Nairn goalkeeper made contact with the Tain forward, who could have gone down for a penalty but he stayed on his feet and tried to score from a tight angle and thankfully for us, John Grant was able to clear from the goal line.

We went back in front again with just three minutes of the 90 remaining and it was a stunning effort from Young.

He stood over a free kick 25 yards out slightly right of centre and whipped the ball over the wall with his left foot.

His effort smacked off the underside of the crossbar but the Nairn striker received the stroke of luck his strike deserved as the ball hit the back of the diving Renwick and bounced into the net.

Tain threw everyone forward to try to grab an equaliser and their efforts were rewarded just a minute after falling behind.

We were unable to fully clear our lines after two crosses into the box and when the third one came in from the right, the ball was only half cleared to substitute Billy Cairns, who smashed a rising effort past Wilson at the near post from eight yards.

It looked like our chances of snatching a late winner were finished when Shaun Young’s clipped cross from the right in the 91st minute was met by a looping Hallam header which dropped on top of the goal net.

But our youngsters summoned up one last attempt and won it four minutes into injury time.

Porritt’s diagonal free kick from out by the right touch line just inside the Tain half was not dealt with properly as the ball dropped to Hallam.

He did well to shift it to his right away from a defender to open up the space for a shot, which he took full advantage of to drill a low effort in at the near post from 15 yards.

An incredible total of 13 minutes of injury time were played during which there were some nervy moments in our box but the defence and goalkeeper Wilson stood firm to see out the victory to get off to a winning start.

Other News

Dylan MacLean makes a penalty save in the Nairn County 2 - 2 Inverness Caledonian Thistle North of Scotland Cup Semi Final
9 hours ago

Dylan Maclean pens new deal

Nairn County badge and EURO 2024 trophy
May 15th 2024

Nairn County EURO 2024 Predictor Game

May 10th 2024

Pollock is back in yellow and black

Accord Solutions Main Stand at Nairn County
May 10th 2024

Squad update

Old and New Nairn County Badge
May 8th 2024

Nairn County unveil new club badge

May 8th 2024

New contract for Ben Kelly

May 7th 2024

Young duo earn First Team promotions

May 5th 2024

Jamie Carnihan agrees new contract