It is a special day for our Reserves team on Saturday as they play their first competitive fixture since being reformed over the close season. The Highland League may be on pause until at least November 28th but the North Caledonian League kicks off behind-closed-doors as planned this weekend and our second string will be away to Inverness Athletic at Pavilion Park, Muir of Ord as the curtain comes up on the 2020/21 campaign. March 9th was the last time any of our teams kicked a competitive ball in anger with the 222-day absence from action the longest we have gone between games since the World War II. Reserves Head Coach, Stuart Finnie (pictured) and his players have been building towards the big kick-off since commencing pre-season training at the start of September but Finnie is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge facing his charges – the two sides met in the Jock Mackay Cup last season with Inverness running out resounding 8-1 winners and their under-20s team have already defeated Finnie’s men in a pre-season friendly. He said: “It is going to be a huge challenge for the players but it is one they should be relishing and looking forward to. “They are going to learn a lot in every game this season and we will see who can handle it. Coming up against men every week as opposed to players their own age is sure to be a shock to their systems but they are certainly good enough as individuals and as a team. It is up to them to have the confidence in their own ability and the belief to go out there and put into practice what we have been working on in training." “Pre-season has been good – we have had three tough games against decent sides. We were not interested in the results – the main objective was to get good minutes into everyone so they are prepared for the start of the season and we managed to do that. We had a bounce game against the First Team at Station Park on Tuesday night as well, which was also worthwhile and good for the fitness.” He added: “There is no doubt that Inverness are the favourites – I think you just have to look at the past results between the teams to see that. They played the first team in a friendly a couple of weeks ago and the manager has told me that they have some quality players." “We will go into the game as the underdog but that is fine and it is something we are going to have to get used to as it will probably be the case for all the games we play this season. As long as the players come off having given it their all and done what was asked of them by me and the coaches then we will have no complaints as it will stand them in good stead as they aim to progress towards the First Team.” The Reserves team has evolved from our Under-20s squad. Following the cessation of the Highland Youth League (Under-19s), the club competed in the North of Scotland League for Under-20s from 2015, playing matches on Monday evenings. From the 2016/17 season, the team also entered the cup competitions at North Caledonian League level and have now decided to take the plunge as full members, leaving age-group football behind and rebranding as Nairn County Reserves. It is not the first time our second XI has played at this level either, having won the North Caledonian League in 1935/36 and 1954/55 as well as scooping the Ness Cup in 1957/58, the North Caledonian Cup in 1953/54 and the Football Times Cup in 1957/58. Finnie added: “It would be great if we were able to add to those honours but the main thing is developing young players so they are good enough to make it to the First Team and everyone on the football side of the club believes competing in the North Caledonian League gives us a better chance of achieving that. It gets them playing against adults regularly at a younger age, they are into the routine of a game every Saturday and there are no postponements because teams want to preserve their pitch and keep players fresh for first team commitments." “As a club, we now have nine cup ties in the North Caledonian League competitions under our belts over the last four seasons and the majority of our squad has played in some of them. The guys who were involved on the day we beat St Duthus on penalties or came away up to Orkney on an overnight trip back in January all enjoyed those occasions and hopefully we can produce more good memories.” To assist with funding the Reserves squad in the new season, we are looking for sponsors for each of the players. At a cost of £100 per player, you / your company name or logo will be included on your chosen players' Player Card, which will be displayed on our Social Media channels and website and used to promote the team's progress and activities as well as highlight the achievements of the player throughout the season. The below players are available: Gus Wilson: Joan Sharp Scott Mutch: AVAILABLE Darren Mota: Mike Read Plumbing and Heating John Grant: David Rogers Scott Murray: AVAILABLE Euan Logan: AVAILABLE Robbie Mackenzie: AVAILABLE Nathan Grant: Graham's Family Dairy Kieran Duffty: Jim McLaren Plumbing and Heating Logan Hallam: Sharon Ellen Sam Gordon: Shaun Smith Duncan Robertson: AVAILABLE Archie Kennedy: AVAILABLE Liam Balfour: Balfour Property Renovations Kyle MacDonald: Marion Kennedy Louis Gordon: AVAILABLE Callum Morrison: AVAILABLE Ryan Moodie: AVAILABLE Stuart Finnie (Head Coach): Dolphin Chip Shop Kevin McLeod (Assistant Coach): AVAILABLE If you or anyone you know would like to sponsor any of the available players, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.