Written by Nairn County FC September 18th 2021

The Reserves moved up to fourth place in the North Caledonian League after taking all three points from a seven-goal thriller with Orkney in Helmsdale. It is now two wins from their opening three fixtures for Stuart Finnie’s young side.

The match was played at neutral Coupar Park in Helmsdale and although we were pegged back to 3-3 from 3-1 up, we were never behind and dug in to find a winner.

Finnie said: “First and foremost I am delighted with the win but we made hard work of it. It should have been a lot more comfortable but we kept getting deeper and deeper and with poor game management and poor decision making, we were giving them plenty of opportunities to put balls into the box and in the end, we were lucky they did not equalise but we dug in and got the job done.”

He added: “Some of our attacking play was a joy to watch today and at times we looked like we could score every time we got near their box. The front three was superb at leading the fight and there was some quality finishes.

“Every week is a learning curve for us and we know we can improve on certain aspects. The main thing is we have a good, young squad and they are hungry. We just need to keep learning from our mistakes but the effort and desire is there, which is brilliant.

“Orkney have been a good team for years, so it is a great result and we will need to lift our game more when we play them again in two weeks’ time as they will be looking for revenge but today we will enjoy this and then get back to working on things at training on Tuesday ebening.”

Finnie made five changes to the team beaten at Halkirk a fortnight ago as he lined-up with:

Nairn County Reserves – Fraser Wilkie, Callum Ednie, John Grant, Callum Morrison, Nathan Grant, Grant Hogg, Scott Mutch (Lewis Mitchell 80), Euan Logan, Kyle MacDonald (Shaun Young 85), Seamus McConaghy, Logan Hallam. Subs unused: Duncan Robertson, Liam Balfour, Gus Wilson (gk).

We went ahead eight minutes in when the ball broke out to Logan Hallam and from 16 yards out, he fired home a controlled, angled drive for his second goal of the season.

We should have made it two when Seamus McConaghy’s corner kick was headed back across goal by Nathan Grant but Kyle MacDonald placed his close range header off target.

MacDonald then went through on goal but was denied by the Orkney goalkeeper, who stood up well to narrow the angle and make the block.

McConaghy then wandered in from the right before firing goalwards with his left foot and was unfortunate to see his effort come back off the post.

We doubled our lead on 50 minutes when a corner kick was cleared only as far as Grant Hogg. He looped the ball back into the danger area and Kyle MacDonald go there first to finish to finish across goal the goalkeeper from eight yards out.

Orkney immediately pulled a goal back though when Andrew Mulraine was allowed a free header at the far post and made no mistake.

The action swung up the other end though and McConaghy’s 20-yard effort was saved by the goalkeeper, with MacDonald keeping the ball alive and showing composure to pick out Hallam. The County attacker sharply spun away from his marker before seeing his effort again saved by the goalkeeper. This time, the ball broke to McConaghy, who fed MacDonald and the shot stopper’s luck ran out this time as the County forward drilled home his second of the match with a first time drive.

But Orkney pulled a goal back again on 62 minutes. A long kick out by the goalkeeper found Liam Delday and he smashed home a left-footed shot from 18 yards.

McConaghy then picked out Nathan Grant with a corner kick but the ball came off his knee and flew over the bar.

But Orkney completed the comeback on 78 minutes as they made it 3-3. A cross from the left found Andrew Mulraine at the far post and he hammered home on the volley to leave Fraser Wilkie with no chance.

Far from feeling sorry for themselves, Finnie’s side pushed on in search of a winner. McConaghy’s cross was cleared off his own crossbar by an Orkney defender before MacDonald got to a delivery into the box before Owen Rendall, who fouled the Nairn forward for a penalty on 80 minutes. McConaghy stepped up to smash home from 12 yards to put us ahead once more.

Orkney pushed for an leveller and three bodies forward but despite forcing a number of corner kicks and winning free kicks in some promising areas, some fine goalkeeping by Fraser Wilkie and solid defending secured the win and another three points.

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