CLACHNACUDDIN battled their way to a share of the spoils at Station Park as the Lilywhites shaded the first half but were thankful for a point with Nairn County in control of the second 45 minutes.
The visitors finished with five men in the book and one sent off to Nairn’s solitary booking and although Iain Polworth’s men started well and had County on the ropes for the opening half-an-hour, the home side began to impose themselves and smuggled an equaliser before the half was out and went on to have the better of the second period.
Clach nearly opened the scoring on 11 minutes following a scrappy opening spell. Blair Lawrie released Scott Morrison down the left and he cut on to his right foot before floating a delivery to the near post that was headed just wide by the arriving Ian Penwright.
Nairn’s luck was in five minutes later as the near post prevented Adam Porritt from scoring an own goal. A neat Clach move sent Morrison racing down the right and his low cross hit the back-tracking Porritt and wrong-footed goalkeeper Stephen Foster with the ball striking the base of the post before the stopper gathered.
County responded at the other end on 17 minutes with Ewen Urquhart cutting in from the left on to his right foot but his shot was deflected just off target.
The lively Morrison was involved again five minutes later when he was allowed a free run in from the left before blasting a dipping low shot across goal and past the far post.
That delayed the opening goal by just 60 seconds though as Clach made their early dominance count. Daniel MacLennan powered down the left and delivered a low cross with Michael Finnis timing his run to perfection to stroke home.
County should have been level just two minutes later. Jordan MacRae was put clean through on goal and although he was able to stab his shot beyond Dougie MacLennan in the Clach goal, the ball came back off the foot of the post.
A MacRae free kick on 31 minutes was cleared as far as Glenn Main on the edge of the Clach box but his first time blast flew just over the crossbar.
At the other end, MacLennan met a cross in from the left with an effort that was repelled by a fine save from Foster two minutes later.
County levelled with the first 45 minutes almost out. Kenny McKenzie and Ryan MacDonald did well to double team the bustling MacLennan to dispossess the centre forward on the halfway line wide on the right before the latter fed Dylan Mackenzie down the right. His low cross was perfect for Jordan MacRae to rush on to and crash into the net via the underside of the crossbar from eight yards out.
The hosts had a great chance to go in front seven minutes after the turnaround. MacRae slipped the unmarked MacDonald in on the right but the full back went for power instead of accuracy and sliced his 10-yard shot past the near post.
Clach should have retaken the lead on 65 minutes. MacLennan robbed Adam Naismith 25 yards out and slipped in substitute Jaime Wilson on the right but he rolled the ball across goal and just past the post.
Nairn were then denied by an offside decision when MacRae’s shot was too hot for the goalkeeper to handle and Dylan Mackenzie bundled in the rebound but the linesman raised the flag.
MacRae almost added his second on 79 minutes as he hooked the ball over his head with his back to goal having met a MacDonald cross from the right but the ball flew past the post.
A minute later, substitute Max Ewan cut on to his right foot after being played in by Urquhart on the left but his low shot was comfortable for the goalkeeper.
County had another goal disallowed on 84 minutes. MacRae’s corner from the left was knocked in by Callum Maclean at the back post but referee Mat Northcroft ruled it out for a foul on the goalkeeper by Ewan.
The home side nearly won it two minutes into added time with Urquhart’s low ball across goal being knocked past the far post by Cohen Ramsay on the stretch.
Clach finished with 10 men as Scott Morrison was red carded for a wild lunge from behind at Ryan MacDonald three minutes into injury time.
Nairn County – Foster, MacDonald, C. Maclean, A. Naismith, Glenn Main, Porritt, Urquhart, K. McKenzie, D. Mackenzie (Ewan 74), MacRae (yellow 50), Ramsay. Subs unused: Ednie, Munro, M. Macleod, R. Naismith, Kerr, R. Macleod (gk).
Clachnacuddin – Douglas MacLennan, Smith (yellow 67), Finnis (y 70), Webb (Leslie 26), Grant (y 30), MacAskill (y 73), Lawrie (Mackintosh 68), Beeston, Penwright (Wilson 55), Morrison (red 90+3), Daniel MacLennan (y 53). Subs unused: MacKillop, Shewan, MacArthur, Trialist (gk).
Referee – Mat Northcroft.
Pictures: Donald Matheson