TWENTY’S NOT PLENTY FOR THE GAULDEN SHOT
Inverurie Locos 2 Nairn Co 2 Locos almost caught with pants down but finish in a two-two. Locos - A REID MICHIE MITCHELL DUFF SOUTER HERD MCCABE MCLEAN (CRISP) GAULD ANGUS LEYDEN, Unused subs: WATT T REID COOPER COOK County - D MACLEAN DINGWALL MCKENZIE C MACLEAN MAIN PORRITT MACDONALD RAMSAY MACKENZIE (MACCONAGHY) EWAN DEY (J MACLEAN). Unused subs: FERNANDINO-SOTO EDNIE MUNRO MACLELLAN WILKIE Match stats, Locos first. Shots ON 9-3, Shots OFF 6-7, Fouls 13-7, Corners 6-2, Offside 5-1. Fans of Inverurie Locos know that a home draw with Nairn County is unequivocally two points dropped in this Breedon Highland Football League campaign, but when you’re 2-0 down at almost twenty to five, you’d gladly grab a salvaged point & crack on. Cooper’s Railwaymen usually bounce back from a cup exit with a victory but alas this wasn’t the case against an enthusiastic & energetic County. There were traits of the two points dropped at Turriff in this clash, with the opponents just a bit more urgent & sharp in the engine room, & finding honest toil & hard work enough to get some reward. Connor Rennie failed a fitness test so Greg Mitchell was at centre half beside Mark Souter, with Chris Herd at left back & a welcome return to action saw Jamie Michie at right back. Joe McCabe was back after his latest ban so the rest of the side was on familiar lines, albeit minus the injured talented trio of Hunter, Smith & Charlesworth. Sluggish & flat starts have dogged the Locos somewhat this term & they struggled to get a tempo & rhythm here again. Angus went through but didn’t watch the line & was caught offside, an outcome that was frustratingly repeated three more times. Mackenzie blazed over then Michie had a free kick charged down. Ewan skied another effort before the first moment of penalty box drama. A Gauld header was straight at the diminutive MacLean who palmed the ball straight out with Neil leaning back & shooting over. Inverurie did finally get their trademark sweet passing game into the groove & a multi-pass move had Angus right in on goal but he mis-hit his finish allowing Porritt to clear off the line. Joe McCabe was then clearly fouled but referee Northcroft chose to give no award, leaving fans to query if the young Locos man is getting a particularly fair time of it from the officials. Locos again allowed County to clear off the line with Gauld’s attempt blocked. Main tried to chip Reid from forty five yards but the big Locos keeper generally scores from this yardage as a minimum, rather than concede from distance. A McCabe cross was struck too hard but nearly flew over MacLean who was having a charmed afternoon. The keeper was unable to take goal-kicks with the time needed by a defender to step in fairly excessive, even early doors. Ewan met the ball sweetly to force Reid to dive to his right. Disaster for Locos on thirty seven minutes when an everyday looped cross was sent into the box from wide & just wasn’t defended. Callum MACLEAN couldnt believe his luck & finished with ease. Locos have already lost over half as many goals this season as they lost in all of the last campaign in around a a third of the fixtures. Set-pieces appear to cause the players all kinds of angst. An Angus header looped into the arms of the under-worked MacLean. HT 0-1. Gauld had MacLean at full stretch from the kick off, with Ramsay next to have a pop at goal, his volley caught with ease by Reid. The same player then had another soft shot fielded by the Locos stopper. Keeper MacLean wasn’t cutting an image of a confident player but Locos just weren’t testing him enough. He fumbled a long Reid free-kick but luckily for him the ball sprung up & back into his arms. McCabe showed real quality to first time a shot with his instep but the ball crashed back off the inside of the far stick. Callum MacLean blasted the ball into the car park when he really should have struck the ball home for Nairn. Twenty one minutes left & a total fluke had Locos in real trouble. Jordan Leyden lost a fifty fifty challenge near the Nairn box & as he stayed on the deck, County broke. Max EWAN struck his shot well enough, but instead of continuing on its path wide of goal, it struck a defender’s shoulder & looped into the roof of the net. Mitchell & Souter had headers fly too high but then a lifetime came via a bizarre mistake by Porritt. The defender leapt for a high ball with his arm in a wholly odd & unnatural position making the penalty award a bread & butter call for the match referee. Neil GAULD crashed home number twenty for the season. Nairn’s time wasting & increasingly frantic defending were giving the home punters hope. MacLean sold himself allowing Gauld to round him but the open goal was missed. Gould & Souter then had further attempts thwarted. Steven Park was quite rightly demanding a decent wedge of overtime in lieu of lost match time & as the clock went past ninety one minutes, Chris Angus was crudely tripped in the box. Up stepped Neil GAULD to level. Neil has already bagged his sixth best Locos seasonal return & all before the close of September. The game continued & Chris Angus had a wonderful chance to snatch all three points but an uncharacteristic heavy touch saw the ball run over the byline. Inverurie again only really got lively & looking like themselves when the clock was running down. Undoubtedly they would have had far too much in the locker for County to cope with had they started with this gusto but that’s not of any concern for the youngsters of Nairn & they were delighted with their win. Boss Ronnie Sharp strode onto the park to chat to the referee at the game’s close but in reality couldn’t have any real issue with two stonewall penalties & the meagre added time that was played. So Locos miss the chance to go third but now focus on a tricky trip to Banff to face a Vale side punching above their weight & who defeated Inverurie last season at this venue.