Written by Nairn County FC April 22nd 2017

A POINT-per-game return gives Nairn County manager Ronnie Sharp something to build upon for next season after the manager saw his side clamber above Huntly to finish 13th in the Highland League table with a 2-0 win at Rothes. Dylan Mackenzie and Gary Kerr were on target in the second half as County controlled the game to keep their much-improved hosts at bay and earn the three points needed to take them up to the 34-point mark at the end of the 34-game season. "To get a point-per-game this season was good. I think it was pretty even over the course of the season with 17 points from the first half of the season and 17 points from the second half of the season – it is something to build on for next season." He added: "We have finished 13th and you probably would not have predicted us to finish that high when we only had six first team players during the week leading up to the start of the season." "The boys have done really well over the course of the season and they are all getting better as the season has gone on. They are getting used to playing with each other and we knew that it was going to take time after throwing so many new players together." "At the moment, we only have two regulars from the last few years in Glenn (Main) and Wayne (Mackintosh). Obviously, Gregg (Main) and Paul (Macleod) are out injured and Kenny McKenzie and Callum Maclean played quite a bit last year but other than that, it is all new." "It is also good to see the younger players doing well. Jordan (Macrae), Dylan (Mackenzie), young Ryan (Macleod) in goals, Jack Maclean and Callum Ednie coming on as well. They are all still eligible for the under-20s league next year, which shows how young they are. That is good for the future." The two sides went in goalless at the break despite Nairn creating the better of the chances – including a Kerr blast, which came back off the post. But it too just a quarter-of-an-hour of the second half for County to build an ultimately unassailable two-goal lead with the visitors never looking in any real danger of surrendering their advantage. Sharp said: "I thought we were comfortable for the whole game and controlled it. We did the same the week before but only had a few chances but at least this time, we took a couple of them." "When we were 2-0 up, we did not look like losing a goal. I thought it was a good performance and it was a well-balanced performance by everybody. The defence played well, the forward line had good movement and I thought the midfield controlled things in there. It is good to end our league fixtures on win." Mackenzie's effort was the 18-year-old's fifth of his maiden Highland League while Kerr now moves on to 18, the best return of the centre forward's career. Sharp stated: "At half time, we thought it was going to be very similar to last week where we controlled a lot of the game but the difference was, we did not create a lot last week but created far more today." "We looked like scoring when we went forward and I thought it was a terrific finish from Dylan Mackenzie. He controlled it, turned well and finished it clinically. That was then followed by a terrific header from Gary Kerr." "We played Gary in a slightly different position today and I thought he was excellent. Young Dylan gave us some pace and movement through the middle too, which was good." "I thought the whole team played well and again, we looked solid at the back and did not look like conceding a goal. Rothes' results have been good recently and they have brought in a lot of quality players since we played them earlier in the season. They showed how good they are with their result against Wick in midweek, so we knew it was going to be a hard game but I thought we were the better team." Ryan Macleod came in for the unavailable Dylan Maclean between the posts and kept his first clean sheet in Nairn colours, making a fine block in the opening minute and tipping a free kick over the bar later in the first half. Sharp commented: "It was an excellent block from Ryan after being alert enough to come off his line early and if that had gone in, it could have been a different game. I thought his handling was excellent and his talking was good. That is really good for him going into next week." Graeme Macleod

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