A POOR first half was followed by a lightning start to the second 45 minutes and that was enough for Nairn County to see off Keith at Station Park with manager Ronnie Sharp pleased to have taken three points despite his side not being at their best.
Dylan Mackenzie rolled home County’s opener just five minutes into the second half before his strike partner Jordan MacRae smashed home number two just seven minutes later. The dynamic duo now have nine of County’s 20 goals so far this season between them.
Keith pulled one back through Ryan Robertson on the hour-mark and threw bodies forward in search of an equaliser, which would have arrived in the third minute of injury time but for a superb, fingertip save by Dylan Maclean after Kenny McKenzie had diverted a low cross from the left towards his own goal.
Reflecting on the match, Sharp said: “We were slack all over the place in the first half. Our movement was not good and our passing was not up to scratch. That might be down to coming off the back of two defeats as that could have affected our confidence. In the second half, we went two up with two really good goals and then started to give away some silly fouls, which allowed them back into it. We need to be a bit more streetwise at times.”
He added: “I thought we defended well. Dylan Maclean did well in goal and the boys at the back were solid enough. We did not give them too many chances – it was mainly in the last five minutes. That probably happened because we did not put the game away after being two goals up.”
Sharp is looking for improvement from his players in the final third of the park and for players to be more decisive when they find themselves in goal scoring positions.
He stated: “At 2-1 up, we got into the last third a lot but then it broke down. We need to take more responsibility in the last third because we seem to be waiting for someone to take responsibility and score goals. Everybody is looking at certain players but you need other players to step up at times.”
Mackenzie’s goal took him on to five for the season, levelling his total for the whole of last season while MacRae notched his fourth of the campaign and his first in five games.
Sharp said: “It was a good move and a really good finish from Dylan. Then, Jordan showed determination to get the ball in the net because the Keith defenders made a good couple of blocks but Jordan did not give up and tucked it away.”
Sharp was forced into a couple of changes early on in the second half with both Jack Maclean and Dylan Mackenzie coming off just 12 minutes after the turnaround.
The manager explained: “Dylan took a head knock shortly before he scored his goal, so we did not take any chances with him. We were not sure if he was 100 percent, so we decided to take him off and Jack picked up a strain in the leg which meant we had to take him off as well. It was not ideal that it happened early in the second half because it disrupted us but the boys who came on did well.”
County could have been in front earlier after they were awarded a penalty kick on 41 minutes but Ross Naismith’s effort from 12 yards was parried by Keith goalkeeper, David Dey.
Sharp said: “It would have been the ideal time to score and it would have totally changed the mood. I do not watch when we take penalties, so I do not know if it was a save or not but we need to take these chances. Someone else will be looking to take the next one I am sure.”
The fixtures continue to come thick and fast for County with another tough week in store – next up is a trip to Rothes on Wednesday night before table toppers Cove Rangers arrive at Station Park next Saturday.
Sharp said: “Rothes is another tough one for us but all of the games are tough at the moment. I thought that Keith did well today and Rothes will be just as tough if not tougher. They seem to be signing players every week at the moment, so they are strengthening their squad all the time. We have a good young team ourselves, so we will give it a go.”