IT was far from vintage but Nairn County got there in the end as two goals early on in the second half allowed Ronnie Sharp’s men to add another three points to their tally. Keith pulled a quick goal back and it was a nervy finale for the hosts but they clung on for the victory.
Keith made an early change with the prolific Cammy Keith going off for Lewis Buxton and the young attacker had a great chance to make a name for himself within a minute of taking to the field. Glenn Main’s miscue put the striker in and he advanced in Dylan Maclean but the Nairn goalkeeper came to his side’s rescue to stand up well and make a block.
Then, Nairn went up the other end and should have had a penalty kick. Jordan MacRae’s clipped pass put Dylan Mackenzie in on goal and he was bundled over from behind by Ryan Robertson in the box after the Keith defender had been caught wrong side but referee Billy Baxter rejected the County appeals.
County were then awarded a spot-kick four minutes before the break after Dylan Mackenzie slalomed into the penalty area and after riding the first foul, he was then tripped by goalkeeper David Dey as he attempted to round the Keith number one. But the stopper made up for it as he threw himself to his right to tip away Ross Naismith’s effort from 12 yards.
The visitors had the better of the half chances in the opening 45 minutes and one of the best of them came just before the break with a Scott Begg pass putting Donald Fraser in behind Adam Naismith but he could only side-foot well over the crossbar from just inside the box.
But Nairn went on front five minutes into the second half. Ross Naismith’s slipped pass down the inside right channel sent Dylan Mackenzie in behind Robertson and he advanced into the box to slip the ball under Dey.
And goal number two arrived for Nairn on 56 minutes. Adam Porritt advanced down the right as Nairn broke and played in Jordan MacRae and although the attacker’s first effort was blocked by Dey, he was on hand to turn in the rebound.
Keith pulled one back on the hour-mark through with a goal that looked suspiciously offside. Ryan Whelan’s in-swinging free kick from the left was flicked on to Ryan Robertson, who had already made his run and was in acres of space in front of goal to nod in from a couple of yards.
The visitors were lucky to keep 11 men on the park on 64 minutes when Kai Ross was only booked for a wild swipe from behind at Kenny McKenzie.
Nairn introduced Gary Kerr and on 71 minutes, he knocked a free kick into the box down to MacRae, who saw his first shot blocked before flashing the rebound past the post.
Keith went up the other end and struck the bar. Whelan beat Urquhart to the by-line on the left after the Nairn midfielder tried to usher the ball out and his delivery was scooped straight up into the air by Cohen Ramsay almost on the goal line with Ross arriving to head against the crossbar.
Five minutes from the end, Kerr ran on to a Ramsay cross from the left but he could only side foot his volley over the crossbar from 10 yards.
Nairn almost threw it away in the third minute of injury time. A low cross in from the left was turned goalwards by the toe of Kenny McKenzie at the near post with the fingertips of Maclean sending the past the goal by a matter of inches.
Nairn County – D. Maclean, J. Maclean (Urquhart 57), A. Naismith (y 90+3), MacDonald, Glenn Main, Porritt, R. Naismith (Ednie 78), K. McKenzie, D. Mackenzie (Kerr 57), MacRae, Ramsay (yellow 59). Subs unused: Ewen, Munro, Wilkie (gk).
Keith – Dey, Spink, Hutcheon, Clark, Robertson, Brownie, Whelan, Begg (yellow 78) (Manson 81), Keith (Buxton 21) (Ralton 64 (y 90+3)), Ross (y 64), Fraser (y 71). Subs unused: Raffell, MacAskill, Manson, Smith, Sopel.
Referee – Billy Baxter.
Pictures: Donald Matheson