Written by Nairn County FC August 27th 2019

The under-20s may have started the North of Scotland League with a narrow home defeat to Rothes but Head Coach Stuart Finnie was pleased with what he saw from his players during an entertaining 90 minutes at Station Park. He said: "We have played a lot worse and won games, so we just need to keep doing the right things such as building our play and work on improving in the final third. "We are disappointed to lose the game and we put a lot into it, especially the second half. We played really well until we got to the final third, where the decision making was not good enough and at the other end, we were punished for our mistakes. "The boys fought until the very end but it was not to be. It was two good teams on display, so credit to Rothes as well." Rothes came with a strong line-up, including first team regulars Robert Donaldson, Ben Johnstone, Ewen Neil, Ryan McRitchie, Ally Stark and Aiden Wilson. Meanwhile, Finnie handed a North of Scotland League debut to 16-year-old Darren Mota at left back while there was valuable game time for first team squad members James Kendall, Joe Cuthbert, Glenn Main, Ryan MacDonald, Gussie Dey and Seamus McConaghy. With both sides fielding strong line-ups, it led to one of the highest quality under-20s matches seen at Station Park since the club entered the North of Scotland League in 2015. Finnie added: "It was good for the first team boys to get a run out and they are good with our boys as well. It would be easy for them to just turn up and do what they have to do but they mingle in and offer plenty of advice and encouragement, which is good to see." The hosts lined up as follows: J. Kendall, A. Davidson, D. Mota, J. Cuthbert, G. Main, R. MacDonald, T. Eadie (Trialist 59), L. Mitchell, G. Dey, S. McConaghy, C. Young (L. Hallam 59). Subs unused: R. Moodie, J. Grant, D. Robertson. Rothes lined up as follows: R. Donaldson, B. Johnstone, I. Copeland, E. Neil, R. McRitchie, A. Stark, Trialist, G. Cameron, A. Wilson, J. Reid, D. Sorely. Subs: D. Cotton, S. Anderson, C. Johnstone, C. Stone, C. Christie (gk). Former Inverness CT striker Wilson has found a home at MacKessack Park after a nomadic period of loans at five different Highland League clubs over the past two seasons. And having opened the scoring in the first team clash between these clubs just over a week ago which Nairn won 2-1, he repeated the feat by breaking the deadlock in this one 20 minutes in. Right back Ben Johnstone was allowed to pick out Wilson in the box with a long pass forward from the just inside the Nairn half. The attacker looked to have used an arm to control the ball but play continued as he spun and planted a low drive beyond the reach of James Kendall. Nairn hit back five minutes from the break. Seamus McConaghy won the ball wide on the right at the halfway line before feeding Tyler Eadie down the wing. McConaghy continued his run to the near post, controlling Eadie's delivery with one touch before slamming the ball into the roof of the net with the second. Debutant Mota then showed good composure on 42 minutes before playing in Eadie down the left. His low cross evaded goalkeeper Donaldson but was cut out by a covering defender with McConaghy poised to pounce. Two minutes into the second half, Rothes re-established their lead. Wilson collected the ball wide on the left past the halfway line and embarked on a positive run towards goal before having the composure to despatch the ball beyond Kendall under pressure from a tracking defender. Nairn pushed for a leveller and just before the hour-mark, Lewis Mitchell's shot brushed the side netting from 20 yards. McConaghy called Donaldson into action twice in quick succession but it was routine saves for the former Inverness CT and Clachnacuddin stopper. The closest Nairn came to claiming a point was 10 minutes from time when a rasping low effort from Glenn Main 22 yards out crashed off the inside of the post before spinning across goal and wide.

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