STUART Finnie felt his side’s defensive desire was the difference as the under-20s edged past Lossiemouth.
An even first half at Station Park saw both sides have spells in the ascendancy but once Ian Payne struck the opener 20 minutes from time, Finnie thought his players showed their defensive mettle to secure the points.
Nairn had two great early chances to open the scoring early on but Sean McWilliams could only direct a header wide of goal when unmarked and well-positioned at the far post before Ryan MacBean went through one-on-one and shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Kelvin Mackenzie missed a sitter at the other end having been picked out by Baylee Campbell with an open goal to aim at before Ross Elliot was denied by Dylan Maclean in the Nairn goal with Campbell’s follow-up blocked on the line by Craig McDermott in an even opening 45 minutes.
Nairn stepped on in the second half though creating the better chances with Tyler Eadie drawing a fine save out of Lossiemouth goalkeeper Trevor Dear from 25 yards before Payne could only head into the side-netting at the near post. But the midfielder then stepped up to strike the only goal of the game.
The visitors clocked up numerous corners and free kicks in dangerous areas without calling Maclean into further action. Indeed, it was Nairn who came closest to adding to the score line late on but substitute Ciaran Young struck the post.
Finnie said: “I think you could see in the first half that we had not played for four weeks. A lot of our passing was quite slack and sometimes we were catching ourselves out losing the ball in our own third.
“It was a tight game and I said to Mark (Greig, coach) at the start of the second half that one goal would win it.
“We were better in the second half and had three really good chances – one of which we managed to take. It was a superb team goal and a good counter-attacking move – a brilliant turn from Beans (Ryan MacBean) followed by a positive run with the ball, a great run from Ciaran (Young) across the way dragging a defender out of the way and opening up the space, a good weight of pass and a lovely finish by Ian Payne. It was very pleasing build-up and finish.”
He added: “I thought we defended brilliantly. We had to defend a lot of corners and crosses but it was nowhere near as backs-to-the-wall as it was through at Lossiemouth earlier in the season and I do not think Dylan Maclean had any real saves to make after we went in front. If anything, we should have sealed the game when Ciaran hit the post.
“I am absolutely delighted to get the clean sheet and you could see everyone had the desire to keep what we had and the boys were putting their bodies on the line.
“I thought we absolutely deserved to win and finally it is a clean sheet, so Dodo can stop hassling us for having high-scoring games all the time!”