IT is Highland League (Morganti) Cup quarter final day at Station Park tomorrow as Nairn County welcome Fraserburgh with the home side looking to go one better than they managed in last season’s competition when they also made the last eight.
It has been a weather-enforced absence of two-and-a-half weeks for Ronnie Sharp and his men with the snow and freezing conditions putting paid to a home fixture against Fort William and away trips to Keith and Cove Rangers.
The Broch made the journey to Station Park sitting pretty in second spot in the league table after an impressive and memorable season so far, which culminated in that once-in-a-lifetime home tie against Rangers in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup. Mark Cowie’s men went down by three goals to nil that night as they gave an impressive account of themselves and the Fraserburgh manager will be eager to avoid the season petering out after all the razzmatazz that went with such a prestigious fixture.
To their credit, that was the Broch last defeat and they remain the closest challengers to title favourites Cove Rangers. Overhauling the groundless Aberdonians might prove to be beyond the side from the North East this season but the Broch can beat any side in this league on their day so will fancy their chances of an extended run in this competition.
Nairn have surpassed their league points tally for this season, matched last season’s North of Scotland Cup quarter final appearance and went one round further in the Scottish Cup this term as they did the year before, so will have the motivation of putting another marker down by progressing to the last four in this competition having gone out to Turriff United in last season’s quarter finals after overcoming Deveronvale in round one.
This will be County’s third tie in the tournament having comfortably beaten Wick Academy away in the preliminary round with a 4-0 success before defeating Lossiemouth 3-2 at home in round one. That was the same stage of the competition as Fraserburgh entered and they recorded a thumping home win over Fort William to set up this tie. The winners will be at home to either Cove Rangers or Forres Mechanics in the semi finals.
You can enjoy live updates of the match on the club’s official Facebook page at facebook.com/nairncountyfc and by following the club’s Twitter feed at @NairnCounty where you will find team lines before kick-off, coverage of all the talking points from the match as they happen, a report on the final whistle and Ronnie Sharp’s reaction later in the evening. Do not forget to also follow the club’s new official Instagram page @nairncountyfc for a peak into what goes on behind-the-scenes updates at Station Park. A preview of tomorrow’s match is below:
Date: Saturday February 10th 2018
Competition: Highland League (Morganti) Cup quarter final
Manager: Mark Cowie
Venue: Station Park, Nairn
Previous meeting: Fraserburgh 4 Nairn County 1 November 4th 2017
Last time out: Nairn County 2 Rothes 4; Fraserburgh 2 Lossiemouth 0
League position: Nairn County 11th Fraserburgh 2nd
Form guides: Nairn County DWWWWL Fraserburgh WLWWDW
Team news: Top scorer Jordan MacRae misses this quarter-final tie as he is suspended having been cautioned in both previous rounds of the competition. He will be joined in the stands by new signing Tom Maclennan, who is cup-tied. Goalkeeper Ryan Macleod is away and will drop out of the team but fellow stopper Dylan Maclean is fit again having been ruled out with strained ankle ligaments recently. Gregg Main, Callum Ednie and Jack Maclean all remain on the treatment table with knee, hamstring and calf injuries respectively and Craig Munro and Matty Macleod have been loaned to Inverness City for the rest of the season. Adam Naismith and Inaki Fernandino-Soto both return to the squad though and Cameron Maclean, Joe Cuthbert and Ryan MacBean have all been called up from the under-20s squad.
One to watch: William West. A seasoned attacker who continues to excel in attack for the Broch. The one-club man enjoyed a testimonial season a few years ago but still has plenty of years left in him at the top end of the Highland League. He found the net in Fraserburgh’s last match as he grabbed the second goal of their 2-0 home win over Lossiemouth to make amends for missing from the penalty spot earlier in the match. Having already won numerous trophies during his distinguished career at Bellslea, he will fancy adding this season’s Highland League (Morganti) Cup to the collection and will arrive at Station Park confident of playing a part in helping the club reach the last four.
Match officials: Referee David Watt, Assistants Gary Falconer and David Milligan.
Weather forecast: Light rain and breezy 5 degrees 17 mph wind.
Admission prices: Adults £8 Concessions £5 (season tickets not valid).