BRORA Rangers are through to the semi-finals of the North of Scotland Cup as they ended Nairn County’s hopes in a low-key affair at Station Park.
The gulf in the score line was harsh on Nairn in the end but once Brora took the lead with a deflected opener, they never looked back.
Brora struck the post just four minutes in and it was a simple move that almost proved Nairn’s undoing. A long ball forward was flicked on by the head of Scott Graham, who had anticipated well to get there just ahead of the out-rushing Dylan Maclean before flicking the ball over the goalkeeper only to be denied by the right-hand upright.
Nairn looked to play on the break and they almost did it to perfection with Jordan MacRae sending Dylan Mackenzie haring down the right. His low delivery almost found MacRae, who had continued his run into the box but it was just behind the County forward.
Brora struck the same post again on 20 minutes. This time it was Andrew Greig with an in-swinging cross from the left that bounced through and came back off the far post before striking Maclean and again coming back off the same upright.
County called Brora goalkeeper Daniel Hoban into action on 28 minutes. Gary Kerr did well to beat a defender out on the right before drilling a low shot goalwards but his shot was tipped past the near post by the on-loan Inverness CT shot stopper.
Then, two minutes later, a great forward pass by Callum Ednie sent Dylan Mackenzie racing forward down the inside left channel two minutes later but he blasted his shot into the side netting under pressure from Brora defender Jamie Duff.
Nairn failed to clear their lines from a corner on 39 minutes and Brora were again denied by the woodwork with Kyle Macleod turning his effort from eight yards on to the near post.
Brora threatened again after the restart with a Martin Maclean shot trickling almost across the goal line and being turned behind for a corner. Then, the same player tried to bend one in from 20 yards out on 52 minutes but the ball flew inches past the right-hand post.
The visitors broke the deadlock two minutes later. Mark Nicolson took on the responsibility of a free kick 20 yards from goal and Dylan Maclean appeared to have it covered until a deflection took it away from the committed County goalkeeper as the ball flashed into the net.
County looked for a response and a Glenn Main half-volley from just inside the left-edge of the penalty area flashed across goal and wide of the post.
The visitors hit the woodwork once more on the hour with Greig bending an exquisite shot from the left-edge of the box across goal and back off the inside of the far post with Maclean rooted to the spot.
But Brora doubled their lead on 71 minutes. Gavin Morrison clipped the ball out to Greig on the right and his measured cross was perfect for sub Craig Campbell to run on to and crash home with a header.
Craig Campbell then added his second of the night seven minutes later. Andrew Greig’s cross found the head of the centre forward and although he was denied by a fine block by Maclean, he turned the ball home via a deflection.
It was another substitute who added number four for Brora with Zander Sutherland on hand to roll a pass from Craig Gunn under the body of goalkeeper Maclean from 10 yards out two minutes from time.
Nairn County – D. Maclean, J. Maclean, Ednie, A. Naismith, Glenn Main, MacDonald (yellow 65), D. Mackenzie, Urquhart (R. Naismith 73), Kerr (Ewan 79), MacRae, Ramsay. Subs unused: K. McKenzie, Munro, R. Macleod (gk).
Brora Rangers – Hoban, Houston, Macdonald, Williamson, Duff, Maclean, Nicolson (yellow 69), Graham (Morrison 65), Macleod (Campbell 67), Gunn, Greig (Sutherland 78). Subs unused: Ross, Paterson, Brindle, Counsell (gk).
Referee – Dan MacFarlane.
Pictures: Donald Matheson